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Midtown District:
Special zone allowing growth along Avenue D approved

SNOHOMISH — During the next few decades, Avenue D north of the historic core could redevelop into a sprinkling of taller buildings among the existing plazas.
In those new buildings could be residents in apartments, with commercial space for the ground floor.
The city has named it the Midtown District.
The district’s boundaries run about a mile long along Avenue D, from between Sixth Street and the bridge over Highway 9.
Last week, the City Council voted 7-0 to approve the development guidelines for this district, including requirements that future buildings contain a minimum number of units inside and that new buildings at high-visibility intersections are constructed alongside the sidewalk to emphasize a pedestrian-friendly corridor.
The allowed building heights will be up to 45- and 55-feet. Fifty-five feet can be up to five stories tall.
For comparison, city planners said 1118 First St., which is three floors, stands 53 feet tall. The building at 924 First St., which is two stories and has The Repp at ground level.
Other rules include design regulations which require using higher-quality building materials and architectural features.
The city began preparing the district plan two years ago because Snohomish County is selling its big, vacant lot along Avenue D opposite 10th Street.
Recent concept sketches for the yard site feature a cluster of buildings up to five stories tall with a dedicated entryway.
The council’s 7-0 vote came after about two hours of testimony.
Opposing speakers, including former Mayor John Kartak, said the taller building heights do not fit the city.
Avenue D is an open area without buildings at the corners. The regulations would change the corridor’s character. Planning commission chair called it a big-city plan that’s being applied upon Snohomish.
Developers themselves emphasized that being able to build taller will be important for being able to make new projects workable from the financial side.
People in favor of taller building heights linked the added height to what will allow developers to feasibly be able to construct affordable residential housing along the corridor.
“I get frustrated hearing ‘small-town values’ - what is that? ... How about those Panthers who can’t afford to live here (today)?” planning commissioner Terry Lippincott said.

Broker tied to Avenue D yard
In September, the County Council hired the commercial real estate brokerage Lee and Associates to sell the former county public works yard along Avenue D.
The deal has the broker taking no more than 4% of the selling price.
The county discontinued using the site in 2008, moving its operations to the Cathcart area.




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