Mission development deals on Martway, Johnson move toward council approval

Outgoing Mission City Councilor Lawrence Andre said the old Neff Printing building is blighted, and welcomed the proposed senior housing development.
The Neff Printing building will be torn down as part of the agreement.

Two development projects in Mission appear to be on track for city council approval after being vetted by the same council members in a committee session last week.

One is a planned 32-unit affordable senior housing project on the site of the old Neff Printing building on west Martway near Metcalf. The other is a new development called Cornerstone Commons for west Johnson Drive that is slated to house a Natural Grocers store and up to four new restaurants.

The senior housing project with Brinshore Development was in jeopardy of being sidetracked when the company did not receive housing tax credits from the state this year. A new agreement with the city gives Brinshore another year to get the credits and get the development under way in exchange for its participation in demolition of the building currently on the site.

Now, Brinshore will put up half of the money for the demolition. If the project goes forward, all of the demolition cost will be on the developer. If the project is not completed, a portion of Brinshore’s demolition payment is non refundable. That portion is 12.5 percent of the demolition cost, now estimated to cost Brinshore about $13,750. Brinshore has already invested nearly $27,000 in the project to date.

Councilor Dave Shepard said the deal satisfied his concerns about the extension and Pat Quinn called it a “fair deal.” Amy Miller, who has opposed the development agreement, said the deal did not change her stance.

The Cornerstone Commons project at Johnson Drive and Barkley also will move to the council for formal action after being heard by the committee and narrowly approved by the planning commission in June. The planning commission approved amendments to the form-based code and removed a planned park from the development area.

The project also is asking for a “pay-as-you-go” Community Improvement District (CID) that will reimburse the developer for up to $1.5 million in qualified expenses. The money to pay the developer will come from an additional one percent sales tax charged at businesses in the development. The CID agreement includes more than $57,000 in payments to the city for administration and inspection fees and donations to a traffic light fund.

Developer Dave Christie has indicated he is ready to start construction almost immediately and has committed tenants. Natural Grocers representatives also attended the committee meeting.

Council members also had a brief exchange about the form-based code requirements that the planning commission agreed to modify. Miller questioned the success of the code, which requires minimum density in new developments in the West Gateway area. Both Shepard and Steven Lucas defended the viability and success of the code. Shepard said more public input is needed “before we completely unravel the form-based code.”