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Hawk property plan heads to Covington City Council

Residents have one more opportunity to offer their input on the proposed Hawk property subarea plan at the Covington City Council meeting Jan. 28.

After the draft environmental impact statement was completed, the city’s Planning Commission hosted a public hearing on the final subarea plan in the fall according to Richard Hart, Covington’s community development director.

Hart said changes were made to the plan based on the suggestions and requests from the public hearing. The Planning Commission forwarded the plan to the council with the recommendation to approve.

Hart said throughout the process of gathering input from residents living inside the city and outside its limits, two major areas of concern were brought up – potential traffic impacts from the development and environmental impacts on Jenkins Creek as well as nearby wetlands.

“All of those potential impacts were addressed in the environmental impact statement and mitigated to the extent possible,” Hart said. “That’s one of the reasons this process took a little bit longer. We were trying to address those impacts with multiple entities.”

Part of the property was home to a gravel mining operation up until a few years ago. The 210 acre site, which is in the city of Covington for the most part, is ideally suited for redevelopment to help meet the needs of the growing city. The Hawk family is in the process of selling the property to Oakpointe LLC, a partnership between homebuilder Oakpointe Communities and YarrowBay Holdings.

In order to figure out what would be best for the property, Covington staff set out in December 2012, with the blessing of the City Council, to begin work on a subarea plan.  King County decided the property on the other side of state Route 18, known as the Northern Notch, would not be brought into the urban growth area boundary in order to be developed.

The subarea plan that was forwarded to the City Council could have anywhere from 680,000 to 850,000 square feet of commercial development along with a residential portion of 1,000 to 1,500 homes. Hart said Oakepointe could develop anywhere in those ranges.

Before any businesses or homes are built, however, a connector arterial will need to be built. This road will link up from Southeast 256th Street through the development to Southeast 272nd Street. Hart said it should more evenly distribute traffic flow and it should even cut response times from the Kent Regional Fire Authority station off 256th down to about three or four minutes to nearby neighborhoods.

Hart said the work on the road could begin at the end of this year or early 2015.

“The first thing that is going to happen is the roadway connection followed by regional commercial along the roadway and that will be followed by residential, which will be a mix of single family and multi-family, owner occupied and rental,” Hart said. “There will be an extensive trail system throughout the development. There will be protection of the stream and the adjacent wetlands along Jenkins Creek. There will be several major focal points of public spaces along the lake and throughout the residential development.”

Additionally, there will be homes ranging in height from single story to four stories, along with mixed use where there will be retail on the ground floor and homes above them. Hart noted that there is discussion of adding a park and ride for commuters on 256th near SR 18.

This development, with its variety of housing types, could create a diversity in housing stock that doesn’t exist in Covington now as there is one apartment complex in the downtown core, which Hart said is typically 90 percent rented.

“The whole goal is you want to provide an area where people can live and work in the community,” Hart said. “What we’re trying to create out at this Hawk property is an urban village environment, one that’s a little bit more automobile oriented because of its direct access to highway 18 as opposed to what the city is trying to create in its downtown center … which is more pedestrian oriented. From the private sector there is a definite need and demand for additional housing in this community.”

Developing the Hawk property also allows the city to bring in businesses that may not otherwise would be able to locate in Covington.

“It opens land for additional big box or large format retail that we don’t have in our town center,” Hart said.

“Specifically we’ve had interest in the past couple years from two major retailers, Target and Lowe’s, that have interest in the community. Finding that land in our town center has just been difficult because the parcels are smaller, there’s a lot of constraints from the standpoint of BPA and the power lines that we have in our town center.”

The City Council will have the opportunity to vote on the subarea plan, which would create a planned action ordination which has the regulations which will guide the development. The way it will be implemented, Hart said, is through a development agreement.

“The city and the developer go through a specific development agreement that gets into the details of timing and phasing, what improvements the developer is going to do and what improvements the city is going to do and that takes two or three months,” Hart said.

For more information on the Hawk property subarea plan, including all of the documents and the recommended plan, go to covingtonwa.gov.

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