Yelm city staff say they’re expecting few impacts to traffic density and street infrastructure from two new apartment complexes as their applications make their way through the permitting stages.
Nisqually Landing Apartments, a proposed 50-unit development slated for construction behind Walmart, and Wyndstone Apartments, a proposed 75-unit development, are currently in the land-use permitting stages, documents from the city show.
City staff say they expect the two apartment complexes to begin construction in the next couple years.
At this time, though, there’s little worry that Yelm’s traffic woes will worsen with the two new developments. Tami Merriman, associate planner, said traffic impact fees received by the city through construction will help the city continue it’s devotion to improving traffic.
“We are taking significant steps in providing that infrastructure. A lot of it can be traced back to the downtown transportation strategy that was just passed,” said city spokesman Andrew Kollar.
Improvements similar to how the 1,200-unit Tahoma Terra development took shape alone Longmire Street are expected, for example, city staff say, although likely not on the same scale.
The Wyndstone development, which will be built on a 5-acre plot on the corner of Durant Street and Tahoma Boulevard, is expected to bring major changes for the better to the surrounding street.
Merriman said Durant Street will eventually become a pedestrian-only path and Durant Drive, which is located southeast of the development, will expand to connect to Tahoma Boulevard.
This will give the new complex access to downtown amenities without straining traffic on Yelm Avenue.
Kollar and Merriman said much of the transportation improvements expected with the development of Nisqually Landing will come in the form of the construction of the state-funded 510 Yelm Loop bypass, slated for completion in late 2023.
The expected growth also comes as the city begins code reform to incentivize builders to bring a diversity of affordable housing options to the growing Thurston County city.
During its Dec. 10 regular meeting, the Yelm City Council approved a recommended ordinance passed on by the Yelm Planning Commission that will encourage development of more affordable housing and would also incentivize developers to build denser.
“It’s hard for a single family to establish roots in a community and move into their first house or first apartments. One of the things this update provides is reducing those barriers to build a housing mix, and in turn that breaks down barriers for young people to buy their first house,” Kollar said. “We’re really trying to incentivize more opportunity.”
Council member Joe DePinto, the lone vote against the ordinance, told the Nisqually Valley News that he had been hearing from his constituents that they didn’t want Yelm to grow too big too fast.
Official studies by the city on vacancy rates haven’t been conducted, Merriman said, but the city is aware that a mix of affordable housing is missing.
“Absolutely, apartments are needed,” Merriman said.