Olympia’s experiment with urban-village development may finally spark new life near Yelm Highway and Henderson Boulevard. That would be a very good thing.
Owners of Briggs Village, north of the highway, never quite got their small commercial hub up and flying after ground was broken in 2005. The 137-acre site was meant to serve surrounding homes and condos in the sub-region, producing a walkable neighborhood.
At one point a grocery store was in the mix.
British Columbia-based Gordie Gill’s Briggs Re-Development One LLC is now developing the site. Gill asked for, and received, approval recently from the Olympia City Council for a modest zoning code change. That action lets village tenants other than banks have a drive-thru lane.
The urban village design didn’t work as planned initially, partly because the suburban population density isn’t high. The council action represents a minor change in the grand scheme that may finally prod the project forward.
Under the zoning change, drive-thru lanes will be limited to businesses that cater to walk-in customers. Gill has been reaching out to Starbucks and Bartell Drugs, both of which need drive-thru lanes. His hope is that such a tenant can act as a catalyst for others. So do we.
Lacey Gateway area gets a new proposal
Another South Sound development that sounded good at launch but underperformed is on Lacey’s northern edge. Lacey Gateway, a 250-acre site, drew a Cabela’s about 10 years ago, but not much else as the recession hit and the original developer had financial difficulties.
New owners — including Bellevue developer Mon Wig and the Nisqually Tribe —submitted plans last fall for a retail project with about 12 buildings on 28 acres. The site is at Britton Parkway and Marvin Road.
The city of Lacey is reviewing the site plan recently submitted.
Wig Properties is not a stranger to Thurston County. It developed the Cooper Point Pavilion and West Olympia Place shopping centers in Olympia.
The Great Recession helped kill further action at Lacey Gateway, but those conditions are abating. The proposal calls for 320,000 square feet of retail space with an anchor tenant using 123,000 square feet.
That’s a large proposal, but it sits close to Interstate 5 and the soon-to-be-widened Marvin Road interchange. The city will need to watch out for traffic impacts, but this is promising news.
Howard joins ranks of Greener stars
Graduates of The Evergreen State College continue to leave their mark in our community and well beyond. A few keep hitting it big in the entertainment world.
The latest success story is Bryon Howard, a 1990-grad who was honored with a Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature for his work on “Zootopia.” Howard shared honors at the Sunday night event with co-director Rich Moore.
For more than two decades, Howard, an Issaquah native, has worked as an animator for Disney.
Other Evergreen grads hitting it big in Hollywood films or animation include Audrey Marrs. In 2011, Marrs won an Oscar along with director Charles Ferguson for “Inside Job,” their film about the causes of the 2008 financial crash.
Matt Groening, creator of “The Simpsons,” cartoonist Lynda Barry, and Craig Barlett, creator of the “Hey Arnold” animation, blazed the popular-culture trail first.