A private developer wants to build 40-plus apartments and a restaurant on prime waterfront property in downtown Olympia.
Located next to Percival Landing, the former Les Schwab Tire Center site at 210 State Ave. NW has sat vacant for a year since the business moved to a bigger space on Plum Street near Union Avenue.
Local developer Walker John’s partnership, Urban Olympia, purchased the 0.4-acre property in December for $1.9 million, according to the Thurston County Assessor’s Office.
A concept design will be submitted to the city for review in the next few weeks, said architect Ron Thomas, a frequent collaborator with Urban Olympia. No permits have been granted yet.
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Aside from ground-floor businesses and 40-plus market rate apartment units, other features of the development are expected to include a public plaza and parking. Thomas told The Olympian that in a best-case scenario, construction would begin this year with completion in about two years.
“We’d love to be under construction this year,” Thomas said. “Things are solidifying and heading in a good direction.”
Urban Olympia has spearheaded a number of downtown projects in recent years, including the Cunningham Building at Fourth Avenue and Adams Street, along with the Thurston First Bank Building and the adjacent 321 Lofts at Franklin Street and Legion Way.
The developer was hired by the city to transform a 1.09-acre section of Water Street into a downtown destination with housing, businesses and parking. Yet another downtown project — with 87 apartments, nine townhomes and 8,500 square feet of retail space — is slated for the northeast corner of Jefferson Street and State Avenue.
Thomas said construction at the former Les Schwab site presents another set of challenges because of its “urban waterfront” zoning, which limits building heights while protecting views of Budd Inlet, the mountains and the state Capitol.
Olympia’s waterfront along Percival Landing also is vulnerable to flooding from high-tide events known as “king tides.” These high tides typically occur in December and January, including one that reached 17.6 feet in December 2012.
The potential worst-case flood scenario could leave much of downtown under water, especially areas bordering West Bay and Capitol Lake. The city reports that even a 1-foot rise in sea levels could cause major flooding up to 30 times a year in downtown Olympia.