One of the largest proposed developments in Lacey — and the first major private investment in the area of Pacific Avenue East in a decade — has caught the attention of neighbors.
And they’re not happy.
“The new proposed building will be visible from the front windows of our house, on which I have spent many years rebuilding to be our dream house,” said neighbor Joe Panesko. Panesko and three other neighbors have filed an appeal to air their concerns about the project before the city’s hearing examiner.
The project is a 300-plus unit senior housing apartment development with 9,000 square feet of commercial space that has been pitched for the corner of Pacific Avenue and Carpenter Road. The property now is the site of a vacant Albertsons supermarket.
The project, backed by developers based in Laguna Beach, California, is called the Reserve at Lacey. The five-story building, if built, would occupy the entire corner right up to Pacific Avenue. It also would face west rather than the south that the Albertsons store faced.
Panesko and the other neighbors are appealing what is known as a mitigated determination of non-significance issued by the city. The determination says that the project has passed muster in a number of areas and can advance through the process.
Panesko says the city hasn’t done enough to mitigate impacts from noise, light and traffic, impacts to views, trees and landscaping, and the effects on the aesthetic of the adjacent Old Lacey Historic Area and its surrounding neighborhood.
That’s where Panesko and the other appellants live.
“We seek a ruling determining that the proposed use ... including its height and monolithic outline, does not and cannot possibly achieve these requirements,” he said in the appeal.
Lacey Community Development Director Rick Walk defended the project. He said it’s a good location for urban infill and it provides access to transit, parks, the trail system and nearby retail services, which promote walking.
“It’s a first of its kind for the city,” he said. It’s also the first private investment in the area since the Dakota Apartments were built on the opposite corner in 2005, Walk said.
The site has limited options for new development, he said. Albertsons, which now owns the Safeway across the street, wasn’t going to bring another grocery store to the site. Yet the 50,000-square-foot building was too large for other retailers and difficult to subdivide, Walk said.
As for concerns about noise, traffic and light, these are “products of a city or urban environment.”
“It’s more of a norm than an exception,” he said.
Panesko remains unconvinced.
“The project is simply a monstrosity,” he wrote in a letter to the city that he shared with The Olympian. “Regardless of the scope of allowable uses and height restrictions specified in the zoning, the size of the proposed building is unprecedented and incompatible within the greater neighborhood.”
A hearing examiner date has not yet been set.