Puyallup’s South Hill would become a more densely populated, pedestrian-friendly neighborhood under a draft plan presented this week to the Puyallup City Council.
That plan, 10 years in the making, may allow 14-story buildings and ban new drive-thru windows in an area that’s now a sprawling auto-oriented suburban retail area. New structures also could find themselves subject to a more stringent design review process than now exists.
The City Council needs to decide a few policy issues before the planning commission can put the final touches on the draft plan, Puyallup city planner Katie Baker said this week.
Among those issues are what building height limits should be in the neighborhood and whether to allow new drive-thru businesses in the area.
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The council could decide to limit building heights to seven stories, to allow buildings to reach 14 stories if developers earn height incentives by providing more neighborhood amenities or to allow 14-story structures without requiring builders to earn height incentives.
The new plan is driven in part by the Puget Sound Regional Council’s mandate that cities complete “regional growth center” plans to qualify for federal funds for city projects.
The regional growth centers are designed to concentrate business, retailing and residential units in smaller areas to facilitate transportation and to focus utility and road improvements in hub areas. Puyallup has two regional growth centers, downtown and South Hill.
With most of the land in South Hill already built upon, one of the few ways to bring more population to the area is to allow taller residential buildings.
Under the city’s draft plan, the tallest residential and office structures would be allowed only in the area around South Hill Mall. Other zones farther from the mall would allow less dense development.
If the council approves the plan after the planning commission has finished its work, Puyallup will follow the example of several cities in the Puget Sound area that have allowed larger, taller buildings near regional malls.
Four high-rise residential structures have been built near the Tacoma Mall in recent years. At the Landing in Renton, the northern edge of the shopping center area is occupied by large apartment structures. At Northgate Mall, new residential buildings have been erected on south side of the shopping center And in Bellevue, Bellevue Square is now bordered by apartment and condominium high-rises.
The city and South Hill Mall owners, Cafaro Co. of Youngstown, Ohio, have been negotiating for some 18 months over details of the plan. An attorney representing the mall said the city and the mall have solved most of their differences.
Don DeSalvo, the mall’s general partner, said that while the city can regulate building, no rules can force an owner to build. Only the market will control that, he told the council.