Developer buys Calvary Tabernacle United Pentecostal Church

Calvary Tabernacle United Pentacostal Church, Jan. 6 009
The Calvary Tabernacle United Pentecostal Church, 5507 236th St. S.W., and three adjacent rental properties have been purchased for nearly $2 million by AFCO & Sons, a commercial and residential developer and builder of Arbor Village, directly across the street from the church property. (All photos by Doug Petrowski)

Arbor Village, the two-and-a-half year old, five-story mixed-use building at 23601 56th Ave. W. in Mountlake Terrace, may be getting a twin brother in early 2018 as the project’s developer has purchased property directly across 236th Street for the purpose of redevelopment.

An approximately $2 million sale of the Calvary Tabernacle United Pentecostal Church and three adjacent rental properties owned by the church to AFCO & Sons was finalized on Dec. 21.

Calvary Tabernacle United Pentacostal Church, Jan. 6 019
AFCO & Sons has hinted that any new development of the Calvary Tabernacle United Pentecostal Church property they recently purchased could likely be similar to their Arbor Village development, completed in August 2013.

Pastor Gary Blaylock says he didn’t want to move, but the church is growing and they need space.

“It’s hard to exist here,” he said over the phone Wednesday night. “It’s bittersweet to leave but it’s impossible to grow.”

The church will soon move to a location in Lynnwood, but Blaylock did not say where exactly yet.

The package of four parcels stretches the entire length of the 5500 block of 236th Street Southwest and gives AFCO & Sons a similar footprint to the south side of the block where the company built Arbor Village.

While no plans have been drawn up at this point, AFCO & Sons General Manager of Developments Steve Stone strongly hinted as to what the company may be planning for the newly-purchased one-acre site.

“I think it’s pretty obvious what we are probably going to be doing there,” Stone said.

The property lies within the City of Mountlake Terrace Town Center District and is zoned for mixed use buildings of up to five stories; the first floor must have street-facing commercial units.

“It’s self-explanatory based on the way the code is,” Stone said. “Any developer in his right mind is going to put commercial on the first floor and go up five stories. You want to make it as dense as possible because of the costs — and it’s got to be cost effective.”

Stone would like to see construction of a new project start as early as this summer, but stressed that no formal plans for the site have been finalized. “We have some ideas of what we want to do with the property, but we’re still figuring it out,” he said.

ARCO & Sons began negotiating a purchase price with the leaders of Calvary Tabernacle United Pentecostal Church soon after the church put the property on the market in 2014. “We started the conversation and it went back and forth,” Stone disclosed. “It’s been 16 months from the point we started to today.”

While Stone and the AFCO & Sons leadership and staff are calling the new potential project “Arbor Village Two,” that’s only because of its proximity to the company’s first large-scale building in town. Potential names for the new development will get market-tested through focus groups before being finalized.

ARCO & Sons opened Arbor Village in August 2013, with six commercial units on its ground floor and 123 apartment units on floors two through five. The apartments have been popular as the building as seen almost full occupancy of its residential units since its opening. There has been only one commercial space leased, a hair salon that opened March 1, 2014.

Using the same timeline for construction as what was seen with Arbor Village, a similar project on the north side of 236th could be completed approximately 20 months following groundbreaking. With construction possibly starting in August, the new project could be completed in the spring of 2018.

Stone acknowledges that a new large-scale mixed-use building at 236th Street Southwest and 56th Avenue West — a key intersection in Mountlake Terrace for commuters making their way to I-5 or local residents heading into the town’s core — will be a substantial change, but he thinks the impact to traffic overall in the city will be minimal.

“Yes, it could create more traffic,” Stone conceded, “but given the proximity to the freeway, you’re not really messing with any of the other corridors. Where all the little neighborhoods are, it doesn’t, I think, really affect them very much.”

Stone contended that new development in the Town Center District would attract more attention from other developers and be a benefit to all property owners in the vicinity. As mixed-use zoned properties get purchased and developed, adjacent properties start getting noticed for possible expansion of the District and further development, he said.

“So if you’re right on the outskirts of it there’s a good opportunity for yours to get rezoned,” Stone speculated. “Even if it isn’t, you get property value with new projects in the area. It naturally makes the area more valuable.”

For any local residents who don’t like seeing new development coming into Mountlake Terrace’s Town Center District, Stone said blame shouldn’t be pointed at AFCO & Sons or other developers. “If it’s an issue for anybody, talk to your council members,” Stone advised. “They created this Town Center (District) years ago. We’re just working within the guidelines of the Town Center.”

Arbor Village was the first large-scale development to take advantage of new city zoning in Mountlake Terrace’s “Town Center District,” an area stretching from the King-Snohomish County line north along both sides of 56th Avenue West to just beyond 230th St. SW., and along both sides of 236th Street Southwest from 55th Avenue West to I-5. City officials began making plans for a new look to the downtown core of Mountlake Terrace in 2004. The first zoning changes were approved in 2007 and 2008.

-By Doug Petrowski

  1. Can anyone explain why, after two and a half years no one is leasing the first floor commercial space? Parking? Lack of foot traffic?

  2. It is going to be nice to see another project located in Mountlake Terrace. Talking with the developer this newest project should be built in have the time at a lower cost with new construction ideas.

  3. How can the city use this as an opportunity to rectify and better plan parking for the area? I believe reason no one is putting business in lower levels us due to parking, plain and simple.

  4. Councilmember, then perhaps you should talk with MLT’s Planning Department and Building Department, neither of which is likely to tell you that shaving 50% off of the building time of a competently constructed multistory project is realistic. Lower cost is largely irrelevant although also unlikely – construction hasn’t become less expensive over the past two years, it has increased

    in cost, and substantially.

  5. Bob Westbrook raises the right questions about the empty (except for one) storefronts at Arbor Village, i.e., sparse foot traffic and the parking issue. Filling the residential units has reportedly been successful, but as far as retail is concerned, it’s unfortunate that the building is situated on the corner of a very busy and tight intersection. Drivers are apt to be more focused on driving and watching for pedestrians than hunting for a place to park. In other words, it’s not at all inviting. My condolences to the developers. I hope their next project is better thought out and ultimately successful.

  6. I agree with Eiya. I think the whole thing is a bad idea. There is NO place to park except for in front of our homes.

  7. I have to clarify my earlier critique of Arbor Village. While I’m very disappointed in that project’s less-than-satisfactory outcome in terms of (mainly) the confusing parking issue, I do wholeheartedly support current and future efforts to revitalize MLT–tempered of course with good sense and a holistic approach to planning and design.

  8. I would suggest everyone look at other cities such as redmond in regards to the commercial spaces being mostly vacant. In redmond for example the first 2 or 3 buildings had very few businesses in the but once a corridor or “new town center” was getting more dense then businesses filled them up. This is one example but consistent with Bothell and other cities as well. Also the parking isn’t an issue for potential renters of the commercial space. In the next 18 months I think you will see more of the commercial space filled up. The city has done a lot to make future projects have more street parking so it won’t have the same parking issue’s as the first building. I think people need to understand that when the first building is done it is a vision, once it is completed then the next projects get better because they have scene one building done and fix any issues that arose. I hope this helps explain some of the concerns.

  9. Robert I am happy to explain construction costs after the project is done. You are correct construction costs have gone up substantially from the last project. What was meant in the story is with today’s costs there are ways to build a building less expensively than the competition.

  10. I agree the lack of usable parking is the fatal flaw with Arbor Village storefronts. I hope they (and the city) finally recognize this when the site across the street and elsewhere in the Town Center are designed and developed. The developers at the Evergreen Elementary site especially need to recognize this. Easily accessible and unconfined customer parking is required or the only customers will be the building tenants and the few city residents living very close by. The rest of us and non-residents will go elsewhere.

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