It’s 2015! And for Mountlake Terrace it’s already looking as though it could be a very significant year for the city. There will be a number of important and newsworthy occurrences over the next 12 months, some we can anticipate and some that will surprise us. Here is a brief look forward at what could be some of the top local stories of 2015.
- The Development of the Gateway Plaza Freeway-Tourist Zone
Calling the almost 17 acres of vacant land along I-5 between 236th and 244th Street SW the “front porch” of Mountlake Terrace, developer Steve Cox can barely hold back the enthusiasm in his voice for what he has planned for the space. “I think you can look forward to an announcement in mid to late January,” he said.
Cox, President of West Ridge Land Corp, is the lead developer of property both privately and publicly-owned land in the freeway-district zone of Mountlake Terrace. “We’ve assembled both properties and are excited about developing all of that area in the Gateway Plaza,” Cox said.
Construction at the site could begin as early as this summer.
The resulting development will likely be mixed-use buildings, with residential apartment or condominium units above ground-floor and mixed among stand-alone commercial space. City officials have already begun plans for a road through the property that would intersect 236th Street SW at the Mountlake Terrace Transit Center and connect with the already-existing private road through the Gateway Plaza shopping area and the former Sterling Bank (now Umpqua) building parking lot.
In April 2014, the Mountlake Terrace City Council approved new building codes for the district that would allow developers to build projects up to 12 stories tall under certain conditions. Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) credits can be obtained that would allow projects of up to 20 stories, but city officials do not believe that will be sought in the district.
- The Opening of Vineyard Park
After numerous delays, the four-story 110-unit Vineyard Park assisted living development is expected to open in early 2015, possibly this month.
The project in the 23000 block of 56th Avenue West in Mountlake Terrace has been hampered by numerous construction delays, admitted Kelley Smith, North Region Director of Marketing for CarePartners. But Smith noted that the building is nearing completion as crews are preparing to install carpet, bring in furniture and set up the kitchen area as soon as a city certificate of occupancy is obtained.
CarePartners Management Group, the parent organization of Vineyard Park at Mountlake Terrace, had hoped to open their newest facility last spring.
Although Smith hasn’t been able to even provide on-site tours of the facility yet, nine of the 110 units have already been leased, she reported.
The project is significant for it, along with the Arbor Village Apartment complex at 56th Avenue and 236th Street, provides a foretaste of the type of development city officials envision for all of the Town Center District on 56th Street SW and 236th Street SW around the city’s downtown core.
- Sound Transit Release of Lynnwood Link EIS
Construction of the $1.2 to $1.7 billion Sound Transit light rail line from Northgate to Lynnwood isn’t expected to begin until 2018, but the project will reach a significant milestone early in 2015 when the final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the 8.5-mile Lynnwood Link is released.
The EIS is expected to include significant data concerning the planned light rail station at the Mountlake Terrace Transit Center and a potential station at I-5 and 220th Street SW. The Mountlake Terrace portion of the light rail line will likely be elevated through the Gateway Place freeway/tourist zone, with an elevated station near or above the ground-level parking lot at the Transit Center. The line will cross over I-5 to the west side of the freeway for the possible station at 220th Street SW.
Following the release of the EIS, the Sound Transit Board of Directors will finalize the light rail route and the location of its stations.
- 2015 City Council Elections
Three Mountlake Terrace City Council seats will be up for election this fall, with all three councilmembers currently holding those seats expected to seek re-election.
Current Position No. 6 seat holder, Laura Sonmore, is the longest serving member of the council that will see their term end this year. Sonmore, who also serves as the city’s Mayor Pro Tem, was originally appointed to the city council in 2000 and has won re-election to her council post four times.
Position No. 7 Councilmember Seaun Richards won his current seat in his first attempt in Mountlake Terrace city politics in 2011, defeating long-time council member John Zambrano. Richards is the owner of the Red Onion Burgers restaurant in Mountlake Terrace.
Position No. 5 Councilmember Bryan Wahl was appointed to his current seat in August 2012 following the resignation of former Councilmember Michelle Robles. Wahl’s appointment was only for 14 months, up to a special election for the position that was held in November 2013. Wahl prevailed in that vote and is currently serving out the remainder of the term originally vacated by Robles. When appointed in August 2012,
Wahl said he would run again for the seat in 2015.
Sonmore, Richards, Wahl and any other Mountlake Terrace residents seeking election to the three council positions must file for the 2015 primary and general elections the week of May 11-15. The primary election is scheduled for Aug. 4; the general election is set for Nov. 3.
- Brighton School Coming to Mountlake Terrace
A property that most recently was home to two different churches will be repurposed later this year and become a private school for hundreds of pre-schoolers through eighth graders.
Brighton School plans to move into the former 25,000 square-foot City Church building (and prior to that New Beginnings Church) at 21705 58th Avenue West, in time for the 2015-16 school year. The facility will be prepared for an expected 400 students and approximately 40 staff members.
The project also includes the construction of a 31-lot subdivision of residential homes on adjacent vacant property just to the south of the former City Church building.
The school hopes to construct a new 10,000-16,000 square-foot building on the west side of 58th Avenue West to house classrooms for an additional 195 students; opening for the new building is targeted for 2017.
City of Mountlake Terrace officials have been working with Nobel Learning Communities/Brighton School and Sonata Homes since last August on the applications for the changes to the site and its impact to the neighboring community. Already targeted for a revision is the intersection of 58th Avenue West and 220th Street SW, which will likely become a four-way stop prior to the school’s opening this fall.
- Construction of the Lakeview Trail
The new $2.48 million Lakeview Trail is on-track to go out to bids this month, with construction of the project starting later this year.
The shared-use path will connect the Interurban Trail at the 7200 block of 228th Street SW in Mountlake Terrace with the Mountlake Terrace Transit Center at 1-5 and 236th Street SW. Much of the path is expected to be a road-grade level and will border Ballinger Playfield and Ballinger Park along the south and west sides of 228th Street SW, Lakeview Drive and 236th Street SW to 65th Avenue West. A crosswalk will be installed to continue path users to the north side of 236th Street SW, then over the I-5 overpass to the Transit Center.
- MTHS Star Athlete Chinne Okoronkwo
Just a high school junior, Mountlake Terrace Hawk Chinne Okoronkwo has won state championships, competed throughout the country in both indoor and outdoor track and field meets, and has even won a track and field medal in international competition. More accomplishments are sure to come to this 17-year-old rising athlete.
Okoronkwo won a silver medal last August in the mixed 8 x100 meter relay at the 2014 Summer Youth Olympic Games held in Nanjing, China; she also placed ninth in the triple jump at the same international event.
Here at home, Okoronkwo earned her first Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) state title during her freshman year, winning the state girls 3A triple jump. Last year as a sophomore Okoronkwo grabbed both the triple jump 3A trophy and the long jump 3A trophy. This year she hopes to repeat in the two events plus add the pole vault title, an event where she was the state runner-up for the past two seasons.
The local 2015 prep track and field season begins March 28 with the Terrace Relays at Edmonds District Stadium. The WIAA 2A, 3A, 4A Boys and Girls Track and Field Championships are slated for May 28-30 at Mount Tahoma High School in Tacoma.
– By Doug Petrowski