A Seattle developer is showing new interest in building some 600 apartments on part of a forested Bonney Lake tract once used by Washington State University for research.
Tarragon has asked the city to consider reducing its development and utility fees to enable construction of a three-phase apartment complex on land west of 214th Avenue East, south of state Route 410 and north of South Prairie Road.
Tarragon also recently revived its interest in developing a 465-acre site east of 198th Avenue East. That site, dubbed “Plateau 465,” could hold about 3,000 housing units.
The developer’s interest in the former site is the first significant activity surrounding possible construction since the city agreed to a general development plan in 2009.
Under that agreement, WSU and Weyerhaeuser Co. donated 40 acres along South Prairie Road to the city while the portions of the forest along Route 410 were reserved for development of private commercial and retail activity. The eastern half of the forest was set aside for multifamily residential development.
Weyerhaeuser donated the roughly 150-acre tract to WSU in 1941. Under the terms of that donation, the land would revert to Weyerhaeuser if the university stopped using it for educational purposes. The university stopped using the land more than a dozen years ago.
In an agreement between the timber company and the university crafted in 2009, the two would sell a portion of the land for development and donate part of the tract for public purposes. That agreement set aside 5 acres for construction of a Bonney Lake YMCA.
Tarragon officials say they have not decided whether to buy the land earmarked for development. It wants to know how much the city might charge in development fees, which go to support infrastructure such as streets and storm drains. .
In a proposal to the Bonney Lake City Council, Tarragon said the city’s current fees and sewer charges are too high to make the project financially feasible.
According to Dave Henline, Tarragon’s director of construction, those fees and sewer construction charges would total $28,233 per apartment unit under the present fee schedule. That’s comparable to fees charged in Bellevue, but apartment rents in Bonney Lake aren’t as high as in that Eastside city.
The most recent apartment project, Renwood, near the library, paid $15,666 per unit, because the council reduced fees during the recession to encourage multifamily construction. Since then, the fees have gone back up.
Henline noted that even if Tarragon paid the lower amount, the city would reap enough money to upgrade two potential bottlenecks in its sewer network to allow more development beyond Tarragon’s project. The city would realize roughly $811,000 in additional annual revenue because of residents, he said.
John Vodopich, the city’s development director, said the sewer lift station near the Safeway store needs upgrading to handle more volume.
Separately, the city is seeking input about how to develop the parkland it was deeded.
Vodopich said residents have expressed a desire for more play and sports fields in the new park. The parkland now is open to the public via a network of trails that originates behind the Bonney Lake Fred Meyer store at 20904 State Route 410. The trails in the WSU residential zone once were open for public use but were closed last year after homeless encampments developed.
John Gillie: 253-597-8663