Business

Public gets look at NorthPoint development ideas

Development proposals for the Port of Olympia's NorthPoint property could generate nearly $30 million for the South Sound economy, according to estimates.

Developer Mark Lahaie, a partner in the Kirkland-based firm MJR Development, shared those comments as part of a public presentation Tuesday night about NorthPoint, a 2.4-acre development on the port peninsula that could be developed as early as next year. The parcel is just south of KGY’s radio studio and north of the port’s log yard.

One proposal is to build a three-story, 90- to 100-room hotel on the property; the other is a three-story, 54,000-square-foot mixed-use office building, Lahaie said. Both proposals would include 5,500-square-foot, family-style restaurants, he said.

The economic benefit to South Sound could come from an estimated $15 million in construction costs, plus spending tied to about 100 jobs created by the development, for a total of $29.25 million, Lahaie said. The property also would have open space and landscaping, and the historic KGY studio building could become a public pier, according to design proposals. Another idea Lahaie shared at the meeting was to move KGY into the mixed-use office building and create a public viewing area so people could watch the KGY studio broadcast at work, he said.

NorthPoint open houses also are scheduled today and Thursday.

About 20 people attended Tuesday’s meeting, including Port of Olympia staff members such as Executive Director Ed Galligan and the port commissioners. A few Thurston County residents also attended the meeting, which was at the Lacey Community Center on Pacific Avenue.

Yvonne Conway of Olympia, who said she is a friend of port Commissioner Paul Telford, said she supports the NorthPoint development as long as it is a self-sustaining enterprise that won’t be subsidized by property taxes that the port collects.

“If it’s a business, it should make a profit,” she said.

Rob Ahlschwede of Olympia said he would like to see public amenities on the site, such as a park. He also said he’s concerned about walling off the waterfront with new development and would like to see the developer build a pier around KGY so that the iconic, 1960s-era studios could be protected and also provide public access. He also said he thinks the port commission is moving too quickly on the development because the commission will have to make a decision on the property soon after the general election Nov. 3.

“Why right now?” he said. The commission could vote on a proposal as early as Nov. 23.

The public has until 5 p.m. Nov. 4 to comment on the proposals in writing. The port can be reached by sending a letter to 915 Washington St. N.E. Olympia, WA 98501, or sending an e-mail to northpoint@portolympia.com.

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403

rboone@theolympian.com

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