UP residents get a look at Grandview Plaza development

University Place residents and other interested parties got a chance Thursday to preview a commercial development proposal for the 27th Street Business Corridor. Questions were answered and plans were explained by city staff members and property owners during the two-hour event held at University Place City Hall.

Grandview Plaza would replace the aging shopping center on the northeast corner of 27th Street West and Grandview Drive with a modern medical complex, neighborhood grocery store and smaller specialty retail shops. In addition, more than 200 new residential housing units would be built on the 12-acre property in two phases. This housing would be geared toward empty nesters, professionals, professional couples and senior citizens.

Grandview Plaza is a way to target underutilized commercial property in the city, noted Mariza Graig, University Place economic development director.

The new development would replace an underperforming strip shopping center -as well as blighted areas that are surrounded by residential neighborhoods – with a mixed-use area, she explained.

“It made sense to do it that way,” she said.

The city envisions Grandview Plaza providing increased property and sales tax revenue to pay for needed city services such as police and fire protection, among others.

Estimated property and sales tax revenue generated by the center in 2003 was only $72,168, with the city’s share of that tax figured at $16.731. The new Grandview Plaza complex is predicted to generate $684,362 in total taxes, with the city’s share being approximately $158,671.

In order to generate these figures, property owners had sought to increase the 40-foot height limit on the property to a 60-foot height limit, with a 10-foot allowance for mechanical and architectural features.

After careful review and consideration of residents’ concerns on April 7, the Planning Commission recommended the existing 40-foot height limit be maintained within 100 feet of residential zoning. Commission members recommended the height limit be raised 50 feet with an additional 10 feet allowed for mechanical and architectural features on the rest of the property. Recommendations made by the Planning Commission are currently being evaluated by the property owners to determine whether the project would still be economically feasible for them.

The final decision on the heights allowed rests with the University Place City Council.

“There have been some concerned neighbors,” Craig said, although she noted there has been overall support from the community regarding the project.

“Timing is everything,” she stated in a press release. “Right now, we have momentum in the development community and as it stands, we have successfully formulated the formation of a viable development team comprised of multiple owners willing to work together for common purpose and vision. While this makes sense from a practical perspective, this level of cooperation and willingness to work together and develop a common approach to development is highly unusual.

“The outcome from this collaboration cannot be understated – a master site conceptual plan that incorporates public amenities, parking and complementary uses that make sense from a community and economic development perspective. If we don’t do it now, we may not be successful in forging a cooperative relationship among future owners. Worse, we may delay any significant improvements and encourage status quo with no positive impact to the community or the city for years to come.”

Assuming ultimate approval of the project, construction on Grandview Plaza is estimated to start in 2005. Completion of the project is set for spring 2006.

The University Place City Council has scheduled a public hearing for 7 p.m., Monday, May 17, at City Hall – 3715 Bridgeport Way West – to consider project-related height restrictions.

University Place is a city of nearly 32,000 people west of Tacoma. It was incorporated in 1995.