After months of debate, Mission council gives approval to 4-story apartment building on Martway

A rendering of the Martway project as approved by the Mission City Council Wednesday night.

After months of sometimes contentious back-and-forth between the developer and surrounding homeowners, the Mission City Council on Wednesday gave its approval to an updated plan for a retail and apartment project on Martway.

As resubmitted to the planning commission last month, the project will be four stories and 43 feet tall with 90 apartment units over first-floor retail. The plan initially submitted by Clockwork Architects last fall was five stories and 60 feet tall with 165 apartment units.

The project site currently has three aging, single-story office buildings, which would be demolished.

Todd Howard of Clockwork told the council Wednesday that the company had again reduced the size and scale of the project after the council rejected another four-story version of the building in February. He noted that the original version of the project represented a housing density of 88 residential units per acre. The plan rejected in February had 70 units per acre. The plan up for consideration last night was 54 units per acre.

Howard argued that the current project’s density would meet market demand for low-maintenance housing near shopping and dining centers. He said the lack of housing density in the Johnson Drive corridor could be a factor hindering the success of retail operations there.

“By not having the higher density in the city of Mission we believe that is one of the reasons there are empty storefronts along Johnson Drive,” Howard said.

But some of the surrounding homeowners again voiced concerns that the project would alter the character of the neighborhood and could have a negative affect on home values.

Aaron Wingert, who lives on 61st Street, said he did not think the city’s planning commission had done a thorough review of whether the proposed density was an appropriate fit for the area.

“On the density, I would have liked to see more review by the planning commission,” Wingert said. “I’m more than disappointed.”

Other residents spoke in favor of the project.

Kevin Fullerton, who lives in Mission and runs Springboard Creative on Johnson Drive, said he thought the project would be a boost to the city.

“That density will help,” Fullerton said. “That will help the businesses that are downtown…I’d like to see those storefronts filled up. That will help out with more people coming in if we get a few more hundred people living off Johnson Drive.”

Councilmember Arcie Rothrock, who represents the ward where the project will be located, was the lone member of the council to vote against the proposal.

Clockwork’s presentation for the council is embedded below:

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