Then and now: Corner of 56th Ave. W and 236th St. SW:


    Downloads13-001Courtesy of photographer David Carlos, take a look at the changes in Mountlake Terarce in just a little more than two years. The first is a photo of 56th Ave. W and 236th St. SW. on January 25, 2012 and the other is a shot of the same corner on July 6, 2014.

    What a difference.






    1. Yes, I noticed how everything seems to still be up for lease. Time will tell if they can attract and keep successful businesses. I don’t like how close to the road all these new 2-3 story bldgs are now.

    2. I don’t know that this is such an improvement. These developers come in and build these cookie cutter monstrosities in every expanding community and yet they aren’t even able to rent out the space.

    3. Three comments so far, in this thread, about the unleased commercial space at Arbor Village. Fortunately for the property owners, the four floors of residential space – 123 units – above the one floor of commercial space are 95+% leased, in less than a year. What the cash flow from nearly-full residential space provides the owners is the ability to remain somewhat selective in matching prospective tenants to the space. MLT Town Center development is a work in progress. “If you build it, they will come.” probably is true, although not necessarily right away. The whole Town Center area has but one large, known new commercial entity (Diamond Knot) up and running, although the Town Center concept has been in existence for a few years now. In the early part of the last decade, a four-block length of the west side of 56th Ave W was rezoned from residential to commercial, and since then only one property in that stretch – mine – has been developed into something else. Things take time.

      I rather doubt the ownership of Arbor Village is fretting about the commercial space, given the outstanding response to their residential offerings. That the commercial space is still available speaks more about the need for work still to be done in MLT, as well as further economic recovery still to come, than it does about any flaw in the Arbor Village concept. Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, Town Center is a major undertaking, and those expecting an overwhelming and immediate commercial response to any one newly created entity are going to be disappointed, or perhaps be given a mistaken impression about the long-term appeal of that entity.

      Perhaps not unrelated, I note that the space that formerly housed Red Onion remains vacant a couple of years after the former tenant left for another location. Using rationale that space availability indicates failure of concept, might that suggest that there is limited commercial interest in smaller existing spaces with few amenities?

    4. ok,

      i hear talk about designing neighborhoods that are walkable…

      so, please, tell us how you intend to construct these structures to bring in more tax revenue, leave plenty of trees, and …

      NOT cause traffic congestion!

      thank you

      • Victor nobody from the City of Mountlake Terrace is going to answer any questions you leave on this page. Dustin is in support of what the city’s agenda is but is not a city employee. He would lead you to believe that the home he owns is in the downtown core but it is not.

        • Margaret, you’re splitting hairs here. I’m not exactly sure what your definition of the “downtown core” is. There is the area of properties that are in the Town Center BC/D zone, I’ve never alluded to the fact that my property is one of those. I do share a property corner with one of the properties in the Town Center BC/D zone. I can look out my back window and in to the windows of Victor’s apartment buliding and see business signs that light up my yard at night.

          I walk and bike every day and some days drive in and through the greater TC neighborhood as well as by the specific properties that are in the Town Center zone everyday.

          There is also the greater “Town Center” neighborhood. I understand that neighborhoods are more a matter of identity that an official designation, but the City’s Town Center neighborhood boundaries are roughly 236th to 220th and I-5 to 48th. I’m certainly in that boundary.

          And yes, I’m generally in support of the vision of many community members, residents, council members, city staff, and local businesses, present and past, of a revitalized, vibrant, walkable, mixed-use neighborhood.

          Victor, it looks like you have 3 questions: How do mixed-use buildings provide greater tax revenue, how do they effect trees, and a question about traffic congestion.

          I wrote a little bit about the impact of property tax revenue here and how mixed-use buildings like Arbor Village do give the residents, our elected, officials, and city staff more resources to work with. I intend on diving a little deeper in to utility taxes and park impact fees in a future post.

          Development like Arbor Village obviously does leave many existing trees on the properties that are developed but there are some significant ecological benefits to this type of development. More dense, compact, development and infill projects focus regional growth in areas that are already development, limiting sprawl in to rural areas and protecting farmland and forests. Our Town Center design standards do require street trees, which do help clean our air, create a buffer between moving cars and pedestrians, reduce stormwater runoff, and provide shade that helps reduce what some call the “heat island” effect that occurs when there is a lot of pavement.

          With more dense development in the neighborhood, there will likely be some more cars in the neighborhood. If you or I are trying to drive a car from your apartment to the freeway during rush hour, it may take you an extra minute or so than it does now. And if you or I want to drive down 56th to get to the freeway during off-peak hours, it may take slightly longer also. But not because there are necessarily more cars, but because the street and building design will make it more uncomfortable to speed and we’ll likely expect there to be more pedestrians, heightening our sense of awareness.

    5. Great comments from Mr. Lee and Mr. Waters as well, even though somehow Mr. Water’s comments have disappeared from your site since last weekend. I find Mr. Lee’s comment particularly on point, “developers come in and build these cookie cutter monstrosities in every expanding community.” I relate back again to Mr. Kuntsler’s recently recommended book, Geography of Nowhere, which purports to both explain and propose solutions to our collective “ugliness.” In so doing, one of the recurring themes is the damage done over many decades by allowing developers’ profit motivation to drive the type and direction of development.

      I couldn’t help but notice that city staff justifies the up-zoning of even more downtown property based on the the proposition that developer’s must have an adequate profit motivation. This also fits well with the other popular justification for ever more density downtown, Mr. Dekoekkoek’s concept of “tax yield” meaning more density per square foot of dirt meaning more developer profit per square foot of dirt. Put another way, the city needs the money so we have to find a way for developers to profit from building here. New developers seem to suffer from the same affliction as the old ones, the profit motive.

      The reason that this entire exercise has the distinct potential for what Mr. Waters calls an “epic fail” is because the egos of city council people and senior city staff see only monuments to their way of thinking rather than the not so popular impacts already unfolding right in front of them. Mr. Waters is entirely correct; “It wasn’t broke was it ? Do we really need to fix something here?” He just isn’t likely to be heard because he is reading from the wrong hymnal.

      As usual Mr. Kramer has many accurate comments concerning the market dynamics of downtown commercial space. He notes his building is the only one yet built based on an earlier re-zone of south 56th. He also nails it when he notes that after 7 years, “the whole Town Center area has but one large, known new commercial entity (Diamond Knot) up and running.” Finally, “I note that the space that formerly housed Red Onion remains vacant a couple of years after the former tenant left for another location.” He might have also mentioned that there was a well advertised open house at the Arbor Village project earlier this summer, yet there is still but one small tenant there who is, from what I hear, struggling.

      Reading all of that it is then hard to not be amused when he explains the experience to date of the Arbor Village commercial space, “What the cash flow from nearly-full residential space provides the owners is the ability to remain somewhat selective in matching prospective tenants to the space.” They’re turning away tenants? Right!


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