Only 5% of land left to build homes in Mukilteo

By Sara Bruestle | Sep 25, 2013

Though Mukilteo is nearly built out, local construction has been picking up recently – a sign that the economy is improving.

According to city planners, a combination of low interest rates and a low inventory of homes have put a demand on Mukilteo land. Construction is up 13.3 percent since it hit bottom in 2010.

Residential and commercial development “is picking up for good” in Mukilteo, said Heather McCartney, director of the city’s Planning & Community Development Department.

McCartney said the city has seen an increase in building activity for the last three years and that staff expect it to continue.

“We have developers and investors looking into the [few] remaining properties,” she said. “It’s either you get in now or you don’t get in to Mukilteo.”

About 10 more homes will finish out at The Arbors near Village Center and another 22 are being built in Raymond Ridge north of Olympic View Middle School.

Recently started is a project off the Mukilteo Speedway, next to Olympic View. Eight homes will be built there next year.

Another sign of an improving economy is that four developers are interested in the Town Square plot right now, McCartney said.

Next to Staybridge Suites, the 5-acre plot known as Sector 3 or Town Square at Paine Field Boulevard and Harbour Place was cleared for development in 1998 and has sat idle since then.

A development agreement approved by City Council in 2002 and updated in 2007 shows plans for a hotel, grocery store, restaurants and retail stores.

“We couldn’t get anybody interested, and now all of a sudden there’s four looking,” McCartney said. “That’s a big sign.”

Though development is increasing, the city has seen an average of $18.1 million in construction since the housing-market crash of 2008 – nothing like the $46.3 million average before the downturn.

At its peak, Mukilteo saw $65 million in construction in 2001.

That year, Mukilteo issued 388 building permits, including 109 single-family homes and 24 commercial buildings. The peak for permits came later in 2006 with 595 issued.

In 2006, the city saw $56.4 million in construction, including 155 single-family homes and 24 commercial buildings.

“The top single-family year was the year before (2005) at 173,” McCartney said. “So right in that era, a lot of single-family homes were produced, in Crown Park and back of the Village Center.”

“The highest ‘commercials’ was in 2001 at 24. We had another [good year] with 11 in 2004.”

Construction in Mukilteo hit bottom in 2010 with just $14.4 million. However, permits were steady at 352.

Notable commercial projects since the crash include the Staybridge Suites (2008), Rosehill Community Center (2009), Latter-day Saints Church (2011), Sulamita Slavic Church (2011), two Electroimpact buildings (2012), a Venture 5 Madden office warehouse (2012) and a New Tech building (2012).

“Along the way, our city projects were helping to keep the economy going, even though it had dropped by then,” McCartney said. “And then we ended up working our way back up.”

There aren’t many other developable lots left in the city, though.

Mukilteo is nearly built out, with less than 5 percent of available land zoned for residential.

About 3 percent is zoned for single-family homes, whereas 2 percent is zoned for multifamily homes. Half of the land is not vacant and is deemed “redevelopable.”

McCartney estimates that the city will see $17.6 million in construction and more than 400 building permits by year’s end.

“We’re in between that very low and just climbing out of the trough,” she said. “Right now we have 376 permits and $16.6 million in construction.”

That includes 29 single-family homes and 1 commercial project – the southern platform for the Mukilteo Sounder Station.

Comments (2)
Posted by: elaine knapp | Sep 25, 2013 16:48

Does Ms. McCarney expect an applause for advising that there is only 5% of land left to build houses?  That project she mentioned on the speedway up from Olympic View is a beauty.  They were allowed to remove every tree from the site. And they will cram as many homes as they can into that site.  No Ms. McCartney we who live here are not excited by your comments..  And if you okd that project (up from OV), I wonder if you made the developers follow all the rules?.  Did you? And who oversees your work and your approvals?

Posted by: Lynn McKinney | Sep 28, 2013 01:04

Elaine, great comment.  I am still awaiting a response on code compliance and drainage issues in my neighborhood, that seemed to have been dropped or ignored. I guess my next step is to resubmit my complaints and info, and then take it to the Council if I don't get a response.  However, I don't believe it is the Council's job to address code compliance and public works issues.

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