By Richard Van Winkle, News of Mill Creek.
At their April 14, 2015, meeting a majority of the Mill Creek City Council approved Polygon Northwest’s request to allow slightly different uses of the commercial portion of their East Gateway Urban Village property than originally intended.
The city council’s six to one vote immediately followed a public hearing where there were no objections to the change. A number of individuals expressed their support for the proposed commercial uses, a dental office and a children’s early learning center.
Mayor Pam Pruitt was the lone dissenter because she said she believes the East Gateway Urban Village plan includes “mistakes” that prevent Mill Creek from attracting sales tax revenue generating big-box stores such as Target. She said she would prefer that the council postpone the decision until a point sometime in the future when the council has a clearer “vision” for Mill Creek.
The Mill Creek City Council is in the process of reviewing the city’s Strategic Plan and Comprehensive Plan. These documents articulate the city council’s vision for Mill Creek’s future development and help set budget priorities.
Polygon Northwest’s original development agreement restricted the site’s commercial activities to the following uses:
- Retail sales and services except automotive, boat, and recreational vehicle sales,
- Eating and drinking establishments (drive-through service prohibited),
- Banks, financial and professional services, and
- Craft shops and galleries.
At the March 24th Mill Creek City Council meeting Polygon Northwest’s Washington Division President Derek Straight said they had been actively marketing their East Gateway Urban Village commercial property through Kidder Mathews, a national commercial real estate broker, since November of 2013.
Straight said there was some limited interest in the property from retail and restaurant businesses, but the lack of an East Gateway Urban Village retail anchor and the distance from their site to other retail businesses seems to restrict the potential market for their commercial lots.
In a March 19, 2015, letter to the Mill Creek City Council Straight wrote, “After several months of marketing the commercial parcels, we received strong interest from two parties, a local dental office and an early childcare school operator named Primrose with a local franchisee.”
Since these two uses are not specifically allowed by Polygon Northwest’s development agreement with Mill Creek, Straight requested a change to accommodate the following commercial uses that are allowed everywhere else in the East Gateway Urban Village:
- Medical and dental clinics and offices, and
- Commercial day care.
The dental office will also include approximately 3,000 square feet of additional retail space. The building owner/dentist plans to lease out the space to other businesses.
In a letter sent to Mill Creek in conjunction with the public hearing, Everett residents Brian and Carla Merisko wholeheartedly endorsed the early learning center as follows:
“We have been residents in the area for over 20 years and have seen the area change rapidly. We strongly feel like the area is lacking quality early education centers. Prices of child care will only continue to rise to meet the demand if additional schools are not brought in.”
“There are plenty of good restaurant and retail options close by, and we would love to see a use that is more conductive to the growing base of children moving to the area.”
Straight also wrote that Polygon Northwest has completed a majority of the residential portion of their 18.5 acre multi-use East Gateway Urban Village development, “Since the execution of the original Development Agreement we have completed construction of the 180 apartment-home community, are approximately halfway through constructing 122 for-sale townhomes, and are materially complete with the construction of Buffalo Park.”
“Thus far the project has seen a positive response from the public, with lease-up and sales of the residential homes going extremely well.”
Buffalo Park will have its grand opening on April 24th.