The developer behind a proposed 300-unit senior housing project in Lacey — a project that has caught the attention of concerned neighbors — has some concerns of its own after it filed a motion with the city.
The developer, AVS Communities, a major player in senior and family housing in Washington state, has filed a motion to dismiss aspects of an appeal filed by resident Joe Panesko and other neighbors.
AVS, which has its main office in Southern California, has pitched the residential and commercial project known as the Reserve at Lacey for the corner of Carpenter Road and Pacific Avenue — currently occupied by a vacant Albertsons’ store.
Panesko and others filed the appeal for several reasons, one of which is they feel the scale of the building is incompatible with their neighborhood, which happens to be in a historic area of Lacey.
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The AVS project measures about 286,000 square feet, which makes it larger than the outdoors store Cabela’s in Hawks Prairie and the Walmart Supercenter in Lacey on Galaxy Drive. Cabela’s is 193,000 square feet, while the Walmart is 213,000 square feet, according to Thurston County Assessor’s Office data.
In its motion, AVS is asking the city’s hearing examiner to dismiss claimed violations of design guidelines, tree protection, transition areas for multifamily development, landscaping requirements and other city guidelines and standards.
“These claims must be dismissed because they are vague and not sufficiently specific to sustain an appeal,” the motion reads.
Panesko said he plans to respond to the motion in writing by early next week.
“I’m not impressed,” he said. “They can make every effort to oppose it, but hopefully I can successfully convince the hearing examiner to go forward with this.”
In one part of the motion, the developer argues that the project site is not adjacent to single-family development — and that its northern boundary touches another property outside the shopping center, but that parcel is vacant and zoned for commercial use.
But Panesko countered that particular parcel is zoned for commercial use as well as another zoning: Lacey Historic Neighborhood. A check of Assessor’s Office data appears to confirm this.
“This is a typical exercise,” Panesko added. “They try to knock out the things they fear the most.”
Seattle-based Attorney Glenn Amster, who represents the developer, said the group was disappointed in the appeal and wishes neighbors had reached out to them discuss their issues.
“Their concerns derive from zoning and land-use policies that have been in place for more than 20 years that call for intensive development in the area,” he said, adding that it’s going to be a terrific project.
A senior housing project has less impact than a typical multifamily development, Amster said, and it’s near the Virgil S. Clarkson Senior Center.
“It’s a perfect match,” he said.
Depending on the outcome of the appeal, the project could begin this fall and be complete in 18 months. AVS has a housing location in Everett, has projects under construction in Sea-Tac and Lynnwood and has pitched them for Auburn and Renton.
“They like Washington state and they have been very well received,” Amster said.
The Hearing Examiner hearing is set for 10 a.m. May 17, Lacey City Council chambers.