City pursuing a plan for Water Street area

Published 5:47 am Friday, October 12, 2007

By Staff
Wants a strategy to guide land uses along key corridor
By MIKE VOSS, Contributing Editor
As part of an effort that could result in a plan to guide development in what Washington officials are calling the Water Street reuse district, the city is asking consultants to provide their qualifications for developing such a plan.
During its meeting Monday, the Washington City Council gave the green light to requesting those qualifications before considering asking consultants for proposals to put together a corridor plan for the Water Street reuse district.
This past spring as the city explored what it wants to do with the former Evans Seafood property it owns. During that ongoing exploration, several council members have endorsed commercial development, which could include a hotel, for the half-acre site. On May 3, city officials concluded the former Evans Seafood property, the former Maola property and the former McQuay Building property be looked at together in an effort to study development possibilities for those combined properties.
On Aug. 27, the council again discussed the former Evans Seafood property “in the context of a hotel on a Water Street location and questioned whether the study should be broadened to include the entire Water Street corridor,” reads a memorandum from City Manager James C. Smith to the mayor and council.
Other city officials agree.
Council members said if the Water Street corridor is to be developed further, a plan that ensures that development is appropriate and doesn’t adversely affect surrounding areas is a must. With the Moss Landing residential project going up along the southern side of Water Street, the potential for future redevelopment of the Builders FirstSource property and other possible development opportunities, city officials have said they want to address land-use issues in the Water Street corridor.
At the Aug. 27 meeting, Councilman Archie Jennings requested that requests for proposals on a Water Street study be presented to the council for review. Smith responded by recommending it would be better to issue a request for qualifications from companies doing corridor studies rather than issue a request for proposals for a specific study.
Land uses — commercial, residential, open space or a mixture of uses — at the former Evans Seafood property and other properties in the Water Street corridor have been at the center of a renewed debate this year.
The council has spent almost a year trying to decide what to do with the former Evans Seafood site. There had been some talk among council members that combining the three properties — Evans, Maola and McQuay — into one large lot would provide more development opportunities for that land. The council considers the former Evans Seafood site as a “bargaining chip” the city may use to persuade the owners of the other two properties to join the city in its effort to develop the area occupied by the three properties. So far, that has not happened.
The council contends that land is identified in several downtown redevelopment plans as prime real estate for a mix of uses, including commercial. The council has also made it clear it has no problem with keeping existing green space adjacent to the three properties as open space to be used by the public.