Construction on a six-story building that would cover an entire city block at 503 Capitol Way may be gaining some momentum.
Known as Columbia Place, the project would share the same area with the Percival Plaza, Doubletree Hotel, and Boardwalk Apartments. The plan includes office, residential, and retail space, as well as a parking garage. As a mixed-use development, this building would fit in nicely with the current development trend.
Recently, plans for Columbia Place were presented at the city’s hearing examiner to gain approval for land use at the site. A permit for shoreline substantial development was also requested due to the close proximity that Columbia Place would have to Budd Inlet.
Plans for Columbia Place have now been reviewed three times. Although examiner Mark Scheibmeir will not pass down an official decision for weeks, he feels bound to the decisions passed down during the last two meetings for approving the project. As for the permit, it was granted.
The actual timeline for starting construction has not been revealed. Even so, Glenn Wells who works as the project architect, feels extremely optimistic that groundbreaking will take place in the next few years. Wells did confirm that private tenants are being courted by Vine Street, the property owner.
Wells went on to stress that building in downtown Olympia has a lot of momentum, a reference to recent developments including the Hands On Children’s Museum and 123 Fourth Avenue apartments scheduled to open soon. Seeing other downtown development certainly creates encouragement surrounding Columbia Place.
This particular project has been 10 years in the making. Initially, the plan was presented in 2005, which was approved in 2007. However, that decision was later reversed by the Olympia City Counsel after receiving opposition from the Citizens for Waterfront Views group. In their argument, the group claimed that Columbia Place would block Budd Inlet views for residents living nearby.
In 2008, Columbia Place was cleared by the state Shoreline Hearings Board following appeal. That summer, construction at the site began only to cease after the foundation was poured and piles driven due to a lagging economy. This provided the architect time to revise the plans to include residential units on the six floor. An approval came down in 2012.
While permits for construction were issued, the permit for the shoreline had since expired, putting the project on hold again. By 2014, the project was shortlisted for an economic development tool called the Community Renewal Area. Now with the shoreline permit in hand and waiting for the examiner’s approval, it appears that Columbia Place will in fact come to fruition.