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OLYMPIA, WA-Although there may be little in the way of actual new construction happening throughout Thurston County, a number of projects are in various stages of planning. In downturns, such as the region is now experiencing, developers with properties in their “land banks” often proceed with the permitting process so they are ready to run with their projects when the market shifts.

In the City of Olympia, a number of projects of varying sizes are in the permitting pipeline. Paula Smith, a permit specialist with the planning department, tells GlobeSt of two projects in the city’s “presubmission” phase.

She says the city takes all the applicants’ information and routes it to members of SPARC (Site Plan and Review Committee), the members of which include people from planning, engineering, building and the fire and police departments. Smith says, “The pre-sub conference is an applicant’s initial contact with the city on a project.”

The first of these projects, tentatively named Mud Bay Office Park II, would add 315,000 sf of “professional office buildings” in a complex on the south side of Mud Bay Rd., between McPhee and Kaiser Roads lying north of Seventh Ave. The applicant on the project was J.A. Morse Construction of Olympia.

The second, submitted by owner, Bob Greenway, concerns a 220,000-sf mixed-use project that would combine office, retail and residential at the north side of Union Ave. between Franklin and Adams Streets. Smith says this project actually includes two sites, one at the 300 block of Union Ave. and the other at the 700 block of 11th Ave. A breakout of the sf of each of the projects was not immediately available.

In the presubmission phase, the city accepts the applicants information then disseminates it to the members of a committee Olympia calls SPARC (Site Plan and Review Committee). The members include people from the city’s divisions for planning, engineering and building, as well as the local fire and police departments and the city’s urban forester. Two weeks following submission, the applicant and members of SPARC conference about the proposed project. “The conference gives the applicant information about what it would take to see their project through—like feasibility and what it would take to get through the land use approval process,” says Smith, adding, “It helps the application to determine if this is something they want to do or not.

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