More apartments proposed in Thurston County

By Rolf Boone

By Rolf Boone

The Olympian

South Sound developers appear ready to meet the demands for more multifamily housing.

That’s according to city of Lacey information, which has revealed yet another proposal to build market-rate apartments, this time in the 9100 block of Martin Way East.

The city recently issued a mitigated determination of non-significance for the project, meaning it does not have a “probable significant adverse impact on the environment.”

The developer, who is working with Olympia-based Thomas Architecture Studios, proposes to bring 96 units, spread across two buildings at 9106 Martin Way E, said Michael Kershisnik, a project manager for the architectural firm. The site currently is mostly undeveloped land, he said.

The development also will mostly have two-bedroom units, Kershisnik said, adding that the apartments will cater to individuals, but also those with small families, such as those serving at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Other features: structured parking, a floor for commercial businesses and four floors of residential units. The two buildings will be linked by a plaza with a canopy, he said.

This proposal is just one of several apartment projects that have recently been pitched in the area.

* MJR Development of Kirkland has proposed 151 units on Sixth Avenue Southeast, not far from Lacey City Hall.

* The Freestone Companies of Fife have proposed 183 units in northeast Lacey.

* The Milestone Companies of Puyallup have proposed West Bay Yards, a 487-unit mixed-use development pitched for the former Hardel Plywood site on West Bay in Olympia.

All three developers have project ties to the area. Ron Thomas of Thomas Architecture Studios said the developer he is working with on the Martin Way site developed the Village at Mill Pond on Lilly Road in Olympia and Silverleaf, a 55-and-older community at Briggs Village in Olympia.

It may seem counter-intuitive to pursue this much housing in a pandemic-induced slower economy, but the need for it, Thomas said, has been “exacerbated by the extreme lack of single-family housing.”

The single-family housing market here has consistently shown less than a month’s supply of homes for sale, according to Northwest Multiple Listing Service data. Total active listings in October were 54 percent lower than the same time in 2019, Northwest MLS data show.

The area is also experiencing inbound migration from Snohomish, King and Pierce counties, Thomas said, plus there is a generation of people who do not view the lack of a single-family residence as a “social shortcoming.”

They want a nice place to live and don’t want to be tied down, he said.

Thomas also said the Olympia area was “woefully underserved” by market-rate apartments less than a decade ago.