The City of Olympia is really gaining some momentum downtown, which is exciting to watch and exciting to be a part of. As a member of the City of Olympia Planning Commission, I recently participated as a stake holder in the Downtown Strategy Plan. From homelessness to sea level rise, the members of this group collaborated to formulate short and long term plans to implement the community’s vision for our future downtown. There will be an open house for the public on February 6th from 5:00-6:30 at City Hall if you are interested in learning more.
*Photo courtesy of the City of Olympia downtown strategy site
Part of the conversation around downtown always includes questions about housing, and how to get more people living in the downtown core. The City’s population is expected to grow by 25,000 people in the next 20 years, and downtown is expected to absorb 25% (approximately 5,000 residents) of that growth. During a recent planning commission meeting I was surprised to hear how many new units have been and will be developed.
*Photo of 123 4th Avenue building courtesy of their site
Snapshot of downtown housing projects
Between 2014 and 2016, downtown gained 299 new units via seven new housing projects, to include the striking 123 4th Avenue apartment project. Currently there are 476 proposed new housing units downtown for 2017-2019. That will be a total of 775 new units in five years if they are all built. It is not 5,000 units, but it is a start. The latest development prior to these projects was way back in the 1990’s with the SHAG project of subsidized housing.
That is exciting. I am betting on Olympia and I can’t wait to see our little city blossom. It will be interesting to see how having this many new residents in the downtown core will drive new businesses to open, and how the street scene will be affected with a higher concentration of full time residents. Stay tuned!