A former supermarket site near Sumner’s City Hall might once again be ripe for redevelopment if the city changes its building rules to attract new developer interest.
The 2-acre site was once the site of the Red Apple Market and a towing company operation. Both have left. The city recently approved a demolition contract for the market building.
The land at 822 Alder Ave. has been a city parking lot for the past decade, but that parking is moving to an adjacent block.
The land first was proposed for redevelopment in 2005, but the economic slowdown killed prospects for construction on the plot. Now, with the local economy revived and housing again in demand, the site just a block from Sumner’s Main Street might be attractive for builders, Sumner’s community development director told the City Council recently.
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Ryan Windish told the council that several prior impediments to redevelopment have been removed in recent years. The original request for proposals, for instance, required condominiums be part of any new development. That requirement was removed in 2015.
Potential developers said the site would be more attractive if the city owned the entire block. The city purchased the remainder of the site in 2016. And contaminated soils remaining from the former towing company represented an issue for new construction. The city is working on a plan to clean up that waste.
Windish told the council in a memo that several other changes would enhance the site’s redevelopment prospects:
▪ Building height. Current city rules practically limit building height to three stories. Allowing four stories on the site would make it more economically attractive and bring more residential units.
▪ Density. Current city code would allow up to 60 units on the 2-acre site. Windish told the council that a higher unit count would allow the developer to spread costs over more units and create more downtown population.
▪ More flexible parking space requirements. The community development director said the council could consider reducing parking requirements because the site is near the Sounder commuter rail station. Creating parking spaces typically costs developers $20,000 to $30,000 per space. Reducing required parking could change the economics of the building in the developer’s favor.
▪ Retail requirements changes. City code requires retail spaces on the building’s first floor. The council could allow first-floor residential in some of those spaces until retail demand increases, Windish said.
John Gillie: 253-597-8663