The city of Puyallup is considering a development plan that could create townhouses, apartments, condos and new commercial space for businesses downtown.
City officials also are weighing what that might mean for parking.
The plan, discussed by City Council in November, assesses the feasibility of redeveloping approximately 1.5 acres of city property on either side of 2nd Street Southeast, also known as the Cornforth-Campbell property.
“I think there’s a general agreement across the board — we want to see development in our downtown core, we’re concerned about parking (and) we want to make sure it’s going to create a nice culture,” Councilman Dean Johnson said at a Nov. 27 meeting.
The property, purchased by the city from Cornforth-Campbell car dealership 15 years ago, currently supplies downtown with more than 100 parking spaces. Approximately 85 of those parking stalls are east of 2nd Street, while about 30 stalls are on the west side of the street and covered by a canopy.
The building on the property was the former location of the YMCA Youth Investment Center, which moved in January 2018.
Two options proposed to City Council in a recent study show mixed-use residential and commercial buildings up to five stories tall replacing the parking lots.
Option A features 11 townhouses with private parking, a retail ground floor and two office floors to the west, replacing the canopy parking.
To the east, a three-level retail and office space and 114 one-bedroom units would replace a surface parking lot. Option A provides a two-story parking garage totaling 145 stalls, but none of it is public parking.
Option B is almost the same, except it allows for development in two phases. Phase 1 includes the 11 townhouses and retail spaces to the west, but only 80 units to the east, allowing for roughly 100 temporary public parking stalls until the rest of the property is developed.
Completing either option leaves no room for permanent public parking on site, drawing concern from some council members.
“There is definitely an issue with parking down here … If (people) have nowhere to park or nowhere to be to get to our businesses, we’re shooting ourselves in the foot. We definitely need to have those parking spaces,” Councilwoman Julie Door said.
She added that she often hears comments from downtown businesses about struggles for customers to find parking.
Tom Utterback, development services director for Puyallup, cited a previous study that said the parking on the Cornforth-Campbell sites are used roughly 50 percent of the time.
The consulting firm conducting the study recommended the city replace existing public parking on a separate site. Requesting public parking on site would discourage developers from investing.
Sound Transit is currently working on a 500-stall parking garage that Councilwoman Robin Farris said could offset parking on downtown streets.
“I think putting a whole bunch of parking somewhere else is a waste of money,” Farris said.
Councilwoman Cynthia Jacobsen argued for maintaining current parking availability.
“I feel like parking is huge … We can pretend all we want that people with one-bedroom apartments are only going to have one car, but they are going to drive their cars,” she said.
Council is looking to solicit private development interest in the property. The request for proposals would consider type of residences (such as condos or apartments), architecture, financial incentives, height of the buildings and parking.
“The intent would be to preserve public parking, to some amount, somewhere,” Mayor John Palmer said. “If we just go out and have zero, we might hear about that.”