Downtown Gig Harbor residential project seeks development agreement

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GIG HARBOR, WASH. — The Ben B. Cheney Foundation and Neil Walter Company have applied for a development agreement with the City of Gig Harbor to build One Harbor Point, a residential neighborhood of attached homes at the intersection of Harborview and Soundview Drives. A development agreement is a common public process used to resolve  site-specific issues such as site layout, density, building heights, and mitigation.

“We care deeply about Gig Harbor.  Our guiding principle for One Harbor Point has been to maintain the character of downtown Gig Harbor, and the development agreement gives us the chance to do that,” said Brad Cheney, president of the Ben B. Cheney Foundation.  Lease income from One Harbor Point will support the Foundation’s mission to improve the quality of life in communities it serves, including Gig Harbor and the Key Peninsula.

Design concepts submitted to the city show One Harbor Point will include 10 structures with a total of 35 homes. Highlights of the design include:

  • Building each structure into the hillside to create the profile of one-to-two story homes when viewed from Soundview Drive
  • Keeping the footprint of each building similar in size to that of a large single family home
  • Creating new panoramic views of the harbor, sound and mountains

To better enjoy the sights, the design calls for viewpoints established along the Soundview sidewalk.  This new promenade also incorporates public art celebrating Gig Harbor’s heritage and will culminate in a pocket park at the intersection with Harborview. The park will mark the southern edge of the downtown business district.  From there, pedestrians can continue down to the water or turn into the business district.

“The project will increase the year-round vitality of downtown and bring new neighbors within easy walking distance of local businesses,” said Mike Hickey, principal of Neil Walter Company, a partner in One Harbor Point.

The project’s site includes five separate parcels with three zoning classifications that accommodate single-family, multifamily,  and commercial uses. Without a development agreement, these parcels would be sold and developed individually.

“Developing each lot piecemeal risks the quality of the neighborhood. A development agreement creates one cohesive neighborhood and allows the community more input and certainty as to what will be developed on this land,” Hickey explained.

The proposed agreement includes dedication of the pocket park and a waterfront boat barn, deck and marina to the city for public use. The boat barn, built in 1925, could become a significant asset to the community, provide waterfront access and preserve a part of Gig Harbor’s heritage.

The proposed agreement also outlines approaches for mitigating impacts to the community.  While the document addresses many points, three stand out—herons, downtown parking and traffic.  Under the agreement, One Harbor Point proposes to:

  • Continue its year-long study to seek evidence of viable heron nesting on the site. The study, which will be completed this spring, is being conducted by Soundview Consultants in cooperation with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the City of Gig Harbor.
  • Build 122 on-site parking spaces for residents and guests—nearly four spaces for each home.
  • Mitigate traffic created by the new neighborhood. Traffic calming plans currently include spreading out access points on Harborview and Soundview; improving the Soundview/Harborview intersection; creating a four-way stop at Soundview and Judson; and adding a turnaround on Harborview at the eastern end of One Harbor Point’s frontage.

Mitigation, such as road improvements, will be negotiated with the city through the development agreement process.  The public will have an opportunity to comment at several points throughout the process.

To learn more about the development agreement process and application, go to Gig Harbor Planning.