The Farm could reap a bountiful harvest for the city treasury
Last updated 3/15/2019 at Noon
The mixed-use complex proposed for 17 acres of open space along the eastern border of Mill Creek could provide a financial bonanza for the City of Mill Creek if the City Council votes to approve the ambitious development this spring.
A Financial Impact Analysis distributed to the council during a study session on The Farm on Tuesday, March 12, projected ongoing revenue for Mill Creek from sales tax revenue and increases to property tax at $499,172.
The city’s share of one-time sales tax revenues from construction were estimated at $980,033.
A public hearing on The Farm has been scheduled on March 26 as part of the regular City Council meeting beginning at 6 p.m. in the council chambers in City Hall.
The purpose of the public session, according to a statement released by the city, is to “take public comment only on the issues contained in the Development Agreement.”
Ryan Patterson with Vintage Housing told The Beacon that updates to the study done in 2016 indicated The Farm could add at least $1 million in sales tax revenues for the city if the complex is competed this year, based on ongoing revenue projections and one-time construction-related expenditures.
The Financial Impact Analysis provided to the city four years ago predicted $391,000 in sales tax revenue from commercial tenants in addition to $552,000 in one-time construction income from the initial phase of construction.
If approved, construction on The Farm could begin before the end of the year within the city’s East Gateway Urban Village (EGUV). Guidelines adopted by the City Council in 2008 mandate architectural design specifications as well as mitigation requirements for the wetlands that border the east edge of the property. Modifications and changes to the EGUV were finalized in 2012.
The decade-old standards call for medium and high-density residential developments in the urban village. The urban village was defined by the city as “high density residential above retail and/or office space.”
The EGUV also requires a “safe and efficient” transportation network throughout the neighborhood to support “a diversity of businesses and types of residential development.”
The plan calls for the creation of places that “provide for the needs of a diverse population of different ages.”
Patterson pointed out his company established The Vintage at Mill Creek adult community in 2015 and has already provided space for the Mill Creek Senior Center in the first floor lobby of the apartment building that backs up to 132nd Ave. SE. He added that the developer has committed $1 million toward the mitigation of traffic congestion along the busy roadway.
Current plans for The Farm includes 355 apartment units and 25 work/live units with a combined 344,720 square feet for living space. The commercial portion of The Farm would have 68,600 square feet of retail space in addition to 16,600 square feet designed for medical offices. The complex will have 1,202 parking stalls, 437 surface spaces and 765 in a parking structure.
Councilmember Vince Cavaleri has remained steadfast against the development he believes has been “rammed down the throat of the council.”
The councilmember said he campaigned against the concept of overbuilding on one of the last remaining parcels in the city.
“The developers are talking about a high-end steak house and some pretty fancy stores under apartments reserved for residents with a limited income,” Cavaleri said. “It just does not make sense.”
Cavaleri said he would have liked to see a complex similar to the city’s Town Center, but realizes plans for The Farm are “too far down the tracks to derail.” He plans to voice is opposition to the project during the public hearing.
Mayor Pro Tem Brian Holtzclaw voiced doubts about the traffic mitigation proposal proposed by the developer during a recent meeting of the City Council.
An online survey in a recent issue of The Beacon indicated that 70 percent of the respondents indicated they did not want on the workforce housing project in the their backyard. The other 30 percent of The Beacon readers who responded said they welcome affordable housing in their neighborhood.
The Farm is the fourth development submitted for one of the last undeveloped parcels in the city.
According to information provided by the Mill Creek Planning Department, a site plan for The Gateway Building was approved in 2011. Subsequent requests for building permits were submitted by Polygon in 2012 and for the Primrose and Dental/Medical buildings in 2015.
Funding for the current project, Patterson said, requires residents of the apartments be limited to individuals and families that earn 60 percent of the median income for residents of the surrounding communities in Snohomish County.
The income guidelines would limit the annual income for a family of four renting an apartment in The Farm to between $50,000 and $60,000.
City officials reportedly reached out to officials with Everett Public Schools last year to prepare the district on the impact to local schools from infusion of apartment homes.
The development is expected to add 375 residents to the city’s population of 20,000.
Officials in both the planning and facilities departments at the district have reportedly worked with information shared by the city to project enrollments and study the need for any boundary changes that would be required to meet the educational goals of the district, according to Diane Bradford in the EPS communications department.