EVERETT – Baker Heights redevelopment may include a mix of 12-story skyscrapers, townhouses, and a grocery store selling locally grown produce.
The architects behind the project came up with new ideas last week while the Everett Housing Authority continues early planning for the property between North Broadway and East Marine View Drive in the city’s Delta neighborhood.
“Our goal is to transform and create a new community destination that will remain affordable over the long term,” said Ashley Lommers-Johnson, executive director of the Everett Housing Authority.
Neighbors had mixed reactions and many suggestions.
“Are we going to make the new Everett Metro out of this?” Asked Ryan Weber, chairman of the Delta Neighborhood Association.
The agency plans to build 1,500 apartments and other types of apartment buildings in a decade. It intends to offer housing to people with a wide range of incomes, thus creating affordable living quarters in the Delta neighborhood. Grocery merchants and software engineers, for example, would be neighbors of the new building.
The project is the second phase of a development that will replace the old Baker Heights, a public housing development that was permanently closed in 2019. The housing authority already has plans for a smaller part of the approximately 15 hectare site. Now it determines the future of about 10 hectares. A planned sale to Washington State University Everett failed earlier this year.
A plan for the redeveloped Baker Heights area in north Everett. (GGLO)
Lommers-Johnson said the housing authority will spend at least another year discussing the project with the city and township. It does not seek official approval for a master plan in the foreseeable future.
“The board understands that we are engaging in an important public process to get to a place where there is consensus about what is going on at the site,” said Lommers-Johnson. “… As part of the planning, we would like to check whether this potential can be realized. The board will not vote or approve a plan in the foreseeable future. ”
Local residents expressed concern about the 12-story buildings and said they felt the planned buildings were getting higher and higher.
“That just doesn’t fit,” says a local resident. “This is a residential area.”
However, many liked the proposed green spaces and retail offerings.
Weber said after the meeting that the association supports more affordable housing in the Delta neighborhood, but fears an influx of housing at market prices could upgrade it. Neighbors fear the new development could cause rents to rise higher than current residents can afford, he said.
An excavator is moving earth at the Baker Heights project in Everett on Wednesday. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
“When costs rise, where are we going?” Said Weber.
Residents in some of the city’s more affluent neighborhoods, such as Port Gardner, have been blocking zoning changes in their own communities for the opposite reason in recent years. In 2020, Everett City Council voted against the rededication of a 3-acre playing field that the nonprofit Housing Hope wanted to develop and use to house homeless students.
The housing shortage has driven up rental prices and raised the “market price” to a price that many residents cannot afford. Developers cannot build taller, denser buildings in single-family homes. Weber said Delta residents fear the new development means they won’t be able to afford an apartment in any of Everett’s neighborhoods.
Lommers-Johnson said this will not be the case for current and future Delta residents.
“Part of what we want to do is ensure long-term community affordability,” said the executive director. “The last thing we want to do is evict low-income people from Everett City.”
The Everett Housing Authority won’t know the exact mix of income levels in the buildings until it designs it, Lommers-Johnson said. GGLO director Jon Hall said the company will update the Everett Housing Authority Board early next year or possibly sooner.
Ultimately, the 12-storey buildings would have to require approval from the city administration. However, Lommers-Johnson said it was “unlikely” that the agency would erect the tallest buildings in the development first.
Katie Hayes: [email protected]; @misskatiehayes.
Katie Hayes is a member of the Report for America Corps and writes for The Daily Herald on issues affecting the working class.