Derek Stebner, local developer and property manager, has reengaged the city of Bellingham’s planning department regarding a mixed-use “lifestyle center” proposed on more than 24 acres along the west side of Lincoln Street and just south of the Lakeway Fred Meyer location.
According to a city of Bellingham public notice released on March 27, Stebner Real Estate Inc. has applied for planned development, wetland and State Environmental Protection Act (SEPA) permits for the phased development of a mixed-use project addressed at 1199 Lincoln Street.
Stebner’s project manager, Ali Taysi, said the project was first proposed in mid-2005 around the time Jorge Vega, Bellingham’s former planning director, was leaving his post.
“The application stalled as they often do,” Taysi said. “Then we made a request at the end of 2007 to get the ball rolling again.”
Taysi said the proposed project would bring a variety of uses and services to the southwest side of the Puget Neighborhood. The project would contain a mix of commercial office and retail space with a community of condominiums and apartments. The site would also feature a hotel, multi-level, galleria-style shopping and a mix of underground and structured parking.
“This is one of the last few remaining infill properties in Bellingham,” Taysi said. “There are not many left that are capable of supporting this diversity of use within walking distance of public transportation and other city services.”
Taysi said the amount of buildings in the project and their heights are still to be determined because the project must still seek a design review permit, which could bring conditions and design changes.
“We don’t want to get into the cost of detailed design work until we know what those conditions would be,” Taysi said.
Brian Smart, Bellingham city planner, said the proposed project, which would straddle Lincoln Creek, was drafted under an older wetlands ordinance. So lately, the city has been working with Taysi and Stebner to get more information about the project’s impacts on the stream and wetland buffers.
“This is a really old project and we have had several meetings with them to help them bring it up to date,” Smart said.
Until recently, a group of homeless people had been living on the north end of the property closer to Fred Meyer.
Officer Mark Young, public information officer with the Bellingham Police Department, said recently the property owner was made aware of litter that had accumulated over time and last month, at the behest of the property owner, officers posted “Private Property” and “No Trespassing” leaflets in conspicuous places around the property.
“People understand that they are on private property and once they are contacted and made aware, it has been our experience that the majority of them pack up and move along,” Young said.
However, Young said, the department’s desire is not that they simply move on, but hopefully move up and out of homelessness.
“Our wish is that they seek services like drug rehabilitation or Worksource to help them get into a better situation,” Young said.
Taysi said the situation would have plenty of time to resolve itself.
“This whole thing is going to happen over the course of years,” he said. “It won’t be developed overnight.”
Taysi said until they get all their permits in line, it is too early to say when construction would begin.
“It’s going to be very well-designed and well-built with a unique variety of services,” Taysi said. “All of this is exciting to be a part of.”
The city of Bellingham’s Planning and Community Development Department is inviting pubic comment on this proposed development until April 16.