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Olympia Responds to Urban Housing Demand & More

An update on street and housing developments Downtown Olympia

When Mike Reid, economic development director for the City of Olympia, speaks to a group about new housing projects downtown – the question most folks ask is, "Where are all the people going to come from to live in these beautiful new buildings?" To answer that question, he breaks out his heat maps to show how Olympia has dense employment levels downtown, but not dense housing levels. He explains that nationally and regionally, both young workers and retiring boomers want to live a more urban lifestyle that includes living where they work, which is driving the development of new market-rate housing Downtown Olympia. Leasing often begins before construction breaks ground.​

On Friday, Dec. 6, Reid shared this information at the Olympia Downtown Alliance's Downtown Academy, which was open to the public. Also speaking at the event was Josh Gobel from Thomas Architecture Studios and Sophie Stimson and Jeff Johnstone, from the City of Olympia's Public Works and Transportation Planning Department. The four speakers shared information about development in progress downtown and upcoming development — both housing and street improvement projects.

Here's a glimpse at what's going on downtown.

500 Columbia/Harbor Heights
The mixed-use development located at 500 Columbia, just south of the Olympia Farmers Market, will feature 115 apartments for those 55 and older, plus 30,000 SF of office and retail space. It is set to open during the first quarter of 2020, finally concluding more than a decade of waiting and work to get to this stage.
The ground-floor retail space will include the Cynara Restaurant, Omni Esthetics, and Landau Engineering.
Expected Completion: Completion Spring 2020

The Lurana
Known by locals as "the former Les Schwab location," The Lurana will bring a renewed sense of vibrancy to the NW corner of downtown. This new mixed-use development featuring restaurant, retail, and 44 units of market-rate apartment housing will feature a terrace extending to the boardwalk. The contemporary colors and design are a strong complement and contrast to the many historic buildings in this area of downtown Olympia. The ground-floor retail space (8,100 SF) will include Bittersweet Chocolate and The Lurana Seafood restaurant, owned by the Mercato/Ramblin Jacks group.
Expected Completion: February 2020.

Views on 5th
The mixed-use project encompasses nearly a city block and is located on 5th Avenue between Capitol Lake and West Bay. Called Views on 5th, it includes the renovated nine-story tower; two new, three-story buildings; 140 units of market-rate housing; and many pedestrian and shopper amenities. The first floor of the tower will include a high-end restaurant, a café and other retail shops yet to be named for a total of 30,000 SF of commercial space. 
Expected completion: Feb 2020. 

Westman Mill
At the location of a former Plywood Sawmill located at the end of East Bay inlet lies the new home for Westman Mill, a mixed-use retail and apartment complex. This 75,000 SF, 5-story story mixed-use building will host 8,500 SF of retail space at ground level and four floors and 86 units of residential apartments above. Other site amenities include paved parking located behind the building, a second-floor common area and outdoor patio. Future development will consist of two separate townhome-style buildings to the east and west of the main building and a pedestrian boardwalk that runs east with future connection to Marine Drive and East Bay Public Plaza.
Expected Completion: November 2020

Market Flats
Market Flats is a mixed-use new construction project located at 312 Capitol Way North and is a contemporary brick building 5-stories high with 44 residential units on the upper four floors. The units are a mix of studios, one-bedroom, and two bedrooms, all with large windows to maximize daylighting and views. The ground floor contains the residential lobby and a corner retail space with expansive floor to ceiling storefront glazing. Covered sidewalks and an articulated façade of glazing and pilasters provide rhythm and interest for pedestrians along Capital Way, strengthening the pedestrian connection between the downtown core and Olympia's thriving Farmers Market.
Expected Completion: Spring 2021



State and Water
Thomas Architecture Studios is working with Urban Olympia, a local developer, on a project that will feature exceptional exterior masonry, a strong retail presence on the corner, and wide sidewalks for restaurant and café seating and to highlight trees. This project falls within the jurisdiction of the shoreline masterplan, which dictates building heights and setbacks to provide access to waterfront and waterfront views. The building will be five stories with retail on the ground floor as well as a rooftop deck.
Expected Completion, Fall 2021.

In addition to private development, there are two downtown street improvement projects the City has scheduled for 2020 and 2021.

Legion Way
In early 2020, the City of Olympia will begin renovations on Legion Way, including a raised intersection, asphalt paving, and bike facilities. In a raised intersection, the street surface is at the same level as the sidewalk. Cars ramp up slightly as they enter the intersection. The raised intersection serves as a gateway to the downtown core, slows traffic, and makes it easier for people walking to cross the street. It will also allow the City to keep more trees and to give them space to breathe and grow.

Franklin Street - Construction 2021
In 2021, the City of Olympia will begin renovation of Franklin Street, including bulb-outs at intersections, paving and sidewalk and street tree replacement. Bulb-outs extend the sidewalk into the street at intersections. They slow traffic and shorten the crossing distance for people walking.

For more information on street improvements, click here.

Other Downtown News:

  • Locust Cidery is a new tenant at 222 Market
  • Greyhound Bus Depot is for Sale.
  • 521 Capital Building is for sale
  • Washington State is looking for a new office building on campus for Insurance Commissioner
  • Ramirez on 4th is now open
  • Happy Teriyaki is becoming Asahi Sushi
  • Endless Knot (women's clothing boutique – formerly in Belltown, Seattle) is moving into the shop formerly occupied by Tattered Treasures, opening in March
  • Pre-submission conferences for Bernie's Garage and the new building next to it. Magic Kombucha wants to go into that space








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