Seattle DJC.com local business news and data – Real Estate
August 25, 2022
Small towns and sustainable growth
By SEAN NORTHROP
As municipalities across the region make progress toward meeting growth targets, the attention of developers and homebuilders continues to focus on the role big cities play in the future of urban development. They are drawn to the concept of smart and environmentally friendly growth, which until now has been intrinsically linked to urban centers, not necessarily suburbs.
The trend of looking to inner cities to learn lessons from sustainably designed communities certainly makes sense. After all, urban centers provide the vast majority of jobs and affordable housing, not to mention their convenient access to retail, services and public transit. Additionally, development where basic infrastructure already exists has a much lighter footprint on the land compared to building miles of new roads in remote suburbs.
Small towns can also play an important role in achieving our long-term sustainable growth goals, including here in Western Washington. Growing cities with classic downtown features, especially those that are not fully utilized, can provide developers and builders with exciting opportunities to contribute to the economic and environmental health of the region.
A great example can be found in Cle Elum where Trailside Group is creating Ederra, one of the newest mixed-use developments in the North West. The Issaquah-based land development company is gearing up to offer new residential sites to builders seeking opportunities in challenged planned communities, as part of Trailside Group’s support of a historic Washington mining town striving to achieve a sustainable future. When completed, Ederra will help Cle Elum build stronger connections with nature and its existing downtown, while providing a creative option for today’s increasingly hybrid workforce.
Ederra is a 358-acre planned community that will offer up to 962 new single and multi-family homes, complementary on-site retail, miles of new and improved biking and hiking trails, and some 200 acres of open space connecting the city center around. public forest lands – including the Teanaway State Forest. Publicly accessible outdoor amenities are an important part of Ederra’s overall plan, given the project’s pristine location and the Cle Elum community’s deep connection to the great outdoors.
In terms of economic benefits, Ederra will provide a much-needed boost to a city with stagnant tax revenues. Master plans like Ederra typically include the requirement for mitigation fees associated with each home. Unlike new single-development homes on scattered lots that pay no mitigation fees, each Ederra home will contribute approximately $9,000 in fees – revenue that will go directly to public schools, first responders, ongoing building improvements infrastructure and other essential services. The new homes in Ederra will establish an ongoing tax base that supports a fiscally responsible future for Cle Elum, something that cannot be overlooked by small urban communities approaching their long-term growth plans.
Throughout the construction of Ederra, Trailside Group will pay at least $10 million in mitigation costs to Cle Elum, including $1.8 million in lump sum start-up payments that will go directly into the operating budget of the town. Ederra’s development by Trailside Group will also generate hundreds of well-paying jobs for the community, helping to mitigate the effects of rising inflation and a potentially recessionary economy.
Phase one construction recently began in Ederra, which is located just north of downtown Cle Elum and extends deep into unincorporated Upper Kittitas County. The wide variety of homes in Ederra will provide a critical boost in supply to Cle Elum which, like other municipalities in the region, is struggling to meet residential demand – especially from residents who want access to both open and well-connected spaces, environmentally friendly neighborhoods.
Studies show that small towns are increasingly bearing the brunt of the national housing crisis, with costs rising prohibitively in places like Cle Elum due to first and second home buyers fleeing metropolitan areas at the search for more affordable housing, not to mention the downturn. pace of life offered by communities like Ederra.
The community of Ederra, initially endorsed by an 11-year-old development agreement between Trailside Group and the town of Cle Elum, is moving forward vigorously with a shared public-private vision for the future of the area. The recently signed Memorandum of Understanding at Ederra represents an ambitious vision that Trailside Group has always shared with the greater Cle Elum community – including residents, business owners and other stakeholders who for years have sought an economically and environmentally viable way to move this small, mountainside community into a sustainable future.
Ederra is a community that represents everything that makes Upper Kittitas a unique place to live and recreate. More than anything, however, Ederra is a smart, thoughtful development that helps Cle Elum cope with inevitable urban growth while preserving valuable open space, trail access, and outdoor activities. And it’s something that benefits everyone, including urban centers like Seattle and Bellevue.
Sean Northrop is the founder and CEO of Trailside Group, an Issaquah-based land development company.