Affordable housing development on Conger Avenue proposed


Olympia's Site Plan Review Committee heard a proposal for a cottage housing development at 2401 Conger Avenue NW on Wednesday, May 8. The site is directly across the street from Jefferson Middle School. 

In the narrative, applicant Ken Liliquist stated that he wanted to develop the 20,888-square-foot parcel into a cluster of cottages, which aim to provide affordable housing options for Olympia residents, catering to diverse socio-economic backgrounds.

Liliquist proposed to divide the approximately half-acre of land into individual parcels to accommodate cottages of varying sizes and designs, ensuring flexibility to meet the needs of different households.

Olympia's associate planner Paula Smith provided an overview of the zoning requirements relevant to the proposed development. She said the property is located in a residential multifamily zoning district called RM 18, with a maximum density is 18. "The minimum is eight units per acre. The proposal of doing six meets the density requirements of the district."

The RM 18 designation allows the development of a variety of housing types including single-family homes, duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, townhomes, and cottage housing.

For cottage housing, Smith said the applicant is not required to do a short plat as proposed by Liliquist.

Smith noted two specific requirements for cottage housing developments according to the code. First, the development must provide at least 1,500 square feet of open space, courtyard, or common area. Second, at least 50% of the required parking must be located in a parking lot, rather than on-street.

Engineering plans examiner Zulaika Kim noted that the site consists of type D soils, which will significantly impact stormwater management for the project.

As a result, Kim said, the project must comply with the city's 2022 drainage design and erosion control manual. Because the project will create over 5,000 square feet of new or replaced impervious surface area and contains type D soils, it is required to hold a stormwater scoping meeting.

Kim explained further that once development begins, a civil engineer or stormwater engineer experienced in stormwater management will need to conduct soil investigations to determine if the entire site consists of type D soils, which have poor drainage abilities and make stormwater management very challenging.

Kim advised the applicant to hire a professional with stormwater expertise to help design an appropriate stormwater system, as the soil composition could impact drainage and solutions will require technical expertise given the drainage limitations of type D soils.

This image shows the depth of the potential pocket neighborhood at 2401 Conger Ave NW in Olympia.
This image shows the depth of the potential pocket neighborhood at 2401 Conger Ave NW in Olympia.
For transportation, Kim stated that full frontage improvements are required for the project. She noted that the pavement rating on Conger Avenue is 36. According to city Engineering Design and Development Standards (EDDS), any project on a road with a pavement rating of 36 or lower requires half-street reconstruction as part of the frontage improvements.

Kim pointed out another issue with the current parking configuration shown on the site plan. She stated that the angled parking is not permitted as it would result in vehicles backing out onto Conger Avenue, which poses a safety hazard to pedestrians and oncoming traffic.

Instead, Kim said that the applicant may consider altering to a 90-degree parking design. 


5 comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here

  • ChuckCross

    Who cares where this cottage housing development is placed?? Is the reader to assume that residents of cottage housing developments are unsafe???!! And finally, does Ms. Kim want the reader to believe that backing out of a 90-degree parking site is any more safe than backing out of an angled parking space??

    Saturday, May 11 Report this

  • Dogbody

    For 20 years or more I have heard of permeable cement mix that passes rain water through to the ground. Is this a product not ready for the real world? All this effort, to deal with run off, might be made less of a pain if a large percentage of rainwater passes through a paved area.

    Saturday, May 11 Report this

  • MartyKenney

    This is very exciting to see someone actually trying to utilize the cottage zoning opportunities. I’m very interested in a similar project.

    Now comes the back and forth with the city. Do the city planners have to capacity to override the municipal code and relax the frontage requirements, or is a $20k+ sidewalk budget mandatory even it if it means the project can’t move forward. Now is the time for the city planners to make accommodation for the affordable housing they say they want, or will they decide t’s too out of the box for them? I have high hopes!

    Saturday, May 11 Report this

  • mtndancer

    Would there be single-family cottages, or condominium units, that a family of modest means could get a mortgage on, and thus begin to amass equity and thus family wealth? With increasing housing density, are we consigning an ever-increasing proportion of the population to be renters forever, subject to the whims of landlords? I hope the council takes up this issue.

    Saturday, May 11 Report this

  • DenselikeOlympia

    I used to live there! Ken was a good landlord, kept the place healthy and comfortable enough while keeping the rent reasonable.

    For the water issues, I wonder about sticking the houses on pin foundations. It's not a common approach in this area but maybe it should be

    Sunday, May 12 Report this