A 10-story apartment building is being proposed in the north part of town near Costco.
Morgan Bartlett of Madrona Bay Real Estate Investments is hosting a public meeting to introduce the project. Called CityScape, it would be built at 4017 Pacific Hwy. and have 426 apartment units with an attached restaurant and some commercial space.
The apartment units will take up the top eight floors, with the bottom two levels used as a parking garage. CityScape will also have two levels of underground parking.
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The CityScape project was first introduced two years ago, but has been significantly revised. Plans in August 2015 called for a 390-unit apartment complex in three buildings over a three level parking garage.
Issues involving traffic and parking were found with that design during meetings with the city, so Bartlett and his architect went back to the drawing board to address them. Bartlett said he’s received positive feedback from the city for the current design.
The project will need to go before a design review board and receive other approvals before applying for building permits. Bartlett is expecting to break ground around the spring of 2018.
Bartlett had originally planned to build a hotel in that area, but scrapped that idea when several hotel projects got started there. He noted the strong demand for residential units, adding that with future residents being within walking distance of Costco and Bakerview Fred Meyer, CityScape is adding more of an urban village component to the area.
The units themselves are designed to be small and efficient, which should help keep the rental rates to around $895 a month, according to the Madrona Bay website. The property will also have plenty of common areas and a fitness area for residents, Bartlett said.
Vacancy rates for apartment units have remained low despite the increase in residential construction in Bellingham. In its latest apartment report, the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington found that of 2,333 Whatcom County units in the survey, only 22 were vacant last spring. The report estimates Whatcom County had more than 16,000 apartment units in 2014.