What’s the latest on those big developments in Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater?

The foundation begins to take shape Nov. 30 at Merritt Manor, an affordable housing project under construction on Martin Way in Olympia at the former site of the Bailey Motor Inn.
The foundation begins to take shape Nov. 30 at Merritt Manor, an affordable housing project under construction on Martin Way in Olympia at the former site of the Bailey Motor Inn. sbloom@theolympian.com

Thurston County’s three largest cities are busy with plenty of projects, though perhaps not the one people are most eager to see happen.

That’s right, there’s still nothing new to report on the former Olympia brewery buildings in Tumwater.

However, here’s the latest on some other high-profile developments:


▪ Merritt Manor: This project on Martin Way in Olympia is among the newest city proposals, and it’s now the farthest along, said Keith Stahley, community planning and development director. Stahley said developers had the money and it is now under construction. The affordable housing project, which occupies the former Bailey Motor Inn site, will have 80 apartments and other amenities. It is expected to open in late 2018. Olympia Federal Savings is a partner on the $13.5 million project.

▪ Westman Mill: Walker John, perhaps the best known developer in downtown Olympia, has agreed to a ground lease with the Port of Olympia to bring a mixed-use project to land at State Avenue and Jefferson Street. The project aims to have 86 residential units, along with 8,500 square feet of commercial space. Stahley said the proposal is under site plan review and will eventually come before the Olympia hearings examiner. But isn’t there work going on there now? Yes, the port, working with the state Department of Ecology, hired a contractor to clean up the site.

▪ Views on Fifth: This is perhaps the most high profile project in Olympia and, for some in the community, the most controversial. Ken Brogan and his partners want to transform the former Capitol Center Building on Fifth Avenue, which overlooks Capitol Lake, into a mixed-use destination with 136 residential units, restaurant and retail space, plus two additional buildings. Stahley said the city’s site plan review committee has forwarded its recommendations, which he described as “pretty pro forma,” to the Olympia hearings examiner, who will consider it Jan. 9. What does a hearings examiner do? “Provide an independent project permit review and issue a final decision on major land use projects consistent with city, state and federal regulations,” according to the city.

▪ Columbia Place: Columbia Place — on a vacant lot north of what is now the Doubletree Hotel on Capitol Way — might generate the most questions. That’s because the project first came before the city more than a decade ago, Stahley said. Work began on the foundation around 2007, then it sat, delayed by the Great Recession. Vine Street Investors wants to bring retail, office and more than 100 apartment units to that site. Stahley said the project has site plan review approval, but the city has yet to see a building permit application.

▪ Dockside Flats: If you’ve been driving around looking for Les Schwab on State Avenue, well, it has moved to Plum Street and Union Avenue. Walker John now wants to develop the old site into ground-floor commercial space topped by two floors of 40 residential units. The project is still under review by the city, which recently hosted a neighborhood meeting about the proposal. Building heights in this area of downtown are currently limited to 35 feet, Stahley said.


▪ Reserve at Lacey: This senior housing project, originally proposed as 300 units at Pacific Avenue and Carpenter Road, is set to get under way in January, said Rick Walk, community and economic development director for the city. However, he said the developer, Southern California-based AVS Communities, now proposes to build a four-story building instead of a five-story structure. Neighbors who initially opposed the project might welcome that change because they raised concerns about a number of things, including heights and obstructed views. That site currently is home to an abandoned Albertson’s.

▪ Northeast Quadrant: Bellevue-based developer Mon Wig and the Nisqually tribe have proposed a 320,000-square-foot retail project — a dozen buildings — in northeast Lacey at Marvin Road and Britton Parkway. Walk said there has been little movement on this project, but the city has requested some traffic impact analysis.


▪ Craft Brewing and Distilling Center: Proposed for an area near Capitol Boulevard and E Street, this project is underway after the parcel was cleared and graded. Community Development Director Mike Matlock said the amphitheater and five-building project is still under review. Once that is complete, the developers, Craft District LLC, can apply for building permits. There’s already been significant buzz about this project, especially after Heritage Distilling of Gig Harbor and South Puget Sound Community College agreed to lease space. There also has been one little hiccup after Tenino-based Sandstone Distillery backed out of the project.