Olympia housing development market as strong as before 2008 recession

By Lorilyn C. Lirio

Olympia’s planning committee has seen an increase in housing construction applications in the city after a slow recovery from the 2008 recession.

Director of Community Planning and Development Leonard Bauer said they were seeing strong demand for housing – something they hadn’t seen in the early 2000s – based on the many pre-applications, which will then go through the process and under construction.

“Over the last two or three years, it has increased significantly and increased slightly in the first quarter of this year compared to the last two years in terms of total number and project value. There are also more complex and larger projects,” Bauer said when discussing private development at the Planning Commission meeting on Monday.

This year, the number of development applications at Olympia is as high as that of the 2000s, before the 2008 recession, he added.

For the first quarter of 2022, there are 57 applications either in the pre-application phase, undergoing land use and design review, reviewing civil engineering and building permit applications, or in construction course. Twenty-seven of these projects are multi-family residential units or apartments or mixed-use commercial spaces for retail stores or restaurants. In total, these projects total approximately 2,000 multi-family residential units and apartments.

In terms of quantity, the largest mixed-use/multi-family residential projects are West Bay Yards at 1210 West Bay Drive NW with 478 ground-floor multi-family residential and commercial units planned; and Smyth Landing Senior Living Apartments at 1824 West Bay Drive with 431 residential units for seniors with varying income levels in five buildings. Both are under review.

Fifteen subdivision developments are in the pre-application process or scheduled for a public hearing for approval. They should include 593 residential units.

There are also 15 public commercial and institutional projects. Among these, two hotels.

Woodspring Suites Olympia, at 3901 Martin Way East, would have 122 rooms in a four-story building. The civil engineering request was approved. The land use authorization was issued on September 20, 2021. Its application for a building permit is currently being examined. Construction is expected to begin this year, according to Bauer.

The Courtyard Hotel, at 2301 Henderson Park Lane, is currently under construction. It is located next to the Hilton Garden Hotel, just southwest of Interstate 5 Exit 105.

The Interfaith Works shelter and day center is also under construction, located at 3444 Martin Way. This shelter will serve people experiencing homelessness.

“This involves redeveloping a former commercial site into a 24/7 shelter for 38 people and ultimately converting it to a day care center and long-term permanent supportive housing at this site. “said Bauer, adding that the project is nearing completion.

The Family Support Center has another housing project in development. It is currently undergoing land use, engineering and building permit review. Once built, Bauer said, the four-storey building will provide 62 affordable apartments for needy families in Olympia. The Family Support Center housing is the second project approved under the Olympia Home Fund and other state funding sources. The first was Interfaith Works’ Unity Commons building.

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