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By Lorilyn C. Lirio

The Olympia Site Plan Review Panel on Wednesday, November 9, held a pre-bid hearing for a 120 multi-family housing project at the 3900 Boulevard Road SE site.

Tessa Bradley, lead architect for the Artisans Group, which manages the project, said Olympia chose the South Puget Sound Habitat for Humanity as its development partner on the 10 acre plot for an affordable housing project.

In a story submitted to the review panel, the development proposal for the boulevard is to have a neighborhood of affordable townhouses, apartments and senior housing options with a range of shared amenities.

Bradley said the craftsman group designed a sustainable neighborhood with community gardens, parks, small commercial spaces, walking paths and a connection to adjacent woods.

The Boulevard Road project will include 48 townhouses, 48 ​​condos, 24 seniors’ cottages and 3,000 square feet of commercial space. The 3,000 square foot commercial building will be located on a separate parcel with a shared access easement.

Planning review

Olympia Associate Planner Lydia Moorehead noted that the site is zoned for RM-18, which allows for a variety of residential uses. However, she noted that the commercial building plot needs to be rezoned.

She said the RM-18 area requires 25% open space for multifamily. “You want to consider having a mix of passive and active open spaces. These areas can include balconies, porches, walkways, and pathways.”

For a multi-family project over five acres, Moorehead said it has specific requirements, including requiring mixed housing and off-site transitional housing, particularly single-family homes.

“You must have a single family or duplex on the outer edges of these developments. Single family units must be visible from across the street,” Moorehead said.

With respect to the commercial building, Moorehead advised the applicant of the specific standards for commerce in the neighborhood commercial area.

She said the maximum size for a commercial building is 3,000 square feet for single use or 6,000 square feet for mixed use. The maximum height is 35 feet and some operating hour restrictions are in place.

Moorehead advised developers to pay attention to building orientation and clearly define the entrance from the street, either directly to the unit or through the courtyard.

The multi-family aspect of the project triggers a review of safe routes to schools. Moorehead noted that the site is outside the walking areas of McKenny Elementary Scholl and Washington Middle School.

“We’ll be looking for a safe route to the nearest bus stop. You’ll want to work with the Olympia School District to identify where that bus stop might be,” Moorehead said.


Lead reviewer of engineering plans, Tiffani King, noted that the site had no street connectivity issues. She said the parcel to the south is owned by the neighborhood association and Puget Sound Energy. The park to the east and the stormwater basin to the north also have no road connection problems.

King told the plaintiff to maintain two connection points to the park property. “There will be people traveling on those lanes. It puts you in a higher classification of neighborhood connector standards.”

She said the recreational pedestrian should be the standard path, usually gravel. However, King asked the applicant to turn this road into asphalt or concrete to maintain the width.