Olympia committee reviews 304-unit affordable housing project on 9th Avenue SW


The Olympia Site Plan Review Committee received a project proposal for a multifamily development at 3909 9th Ave SW.

On May 22, the committee reviewed the proposed development being called Fieldstone Apartments, which would provide 304 affordable housing with all rents restricted based on income averaging 60% of area median income (AMI), ranging from 30-80% AMI. Funding will come from Washington State’s 4% Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Bond Program.

The project involves 11 residential buildings, one community center, surface parking and residential amenities.

Fieldstone not related to Fieldstone

If the name "Fieldstone" sounds familiar, it might be due to the Fieldstone Cooper Point and Fieldstone Memory Care of Olympia facilities located on Fieldstone Drive SW, just down the street from the planned apartments. But they're not related. 

“That project is not ours, nor are we associated with it. We’re strictly senior living; they are low-income housing," according to Rachael Kendall, Regional Director of Operations for Fieldstone Communities, which operates both of the senior-living facilities. 

A representative of Kimley-Horn, the engineering consulting firm that represented Fieldstone Apartments' owner in the May 22 meeting, responded to The JOLT that she was not aware of any connection between the project owner and Fieldstone Communities and that the project owner prefers to not comment. 

18-acre site next to Olympia Orthopaedic 

The narrative stated the 17.79-acre project site is located at 3909 9th Ave SW. The current zoning consists of both Medical Service (MS) and Professional Office/Residential Multifamily (PO/RM) designations. The northeast portion contains an existing Medical Service building owned by Olympia Orthopedic Properties, LLC. The southeast area is used for stormwater management. The remaining western portion of the site is currently vacant and undeveloped.

This development proposes subdividing the existing parcel into two lots. Lot 1 would be 8.16 acres and will include the existing medical office and stormwater management in the northeast and southeast portion of the site. Lot 2 will be 9.63 acres and will be developed into affordable multifamily units.

During the planning review, Olympia associate planner Paula Smith discussed the split zoning on the project site.

She explained that while the proposed multifamily use is permitted in both zones, there are some differences in the development standards and setbacks between the two zones. In the Medical Services zone, buildings must be within zero to 10 feet of the front property line. The minimum side setback is 10 feet.

In the Professional Office/Residential zone, the minimum front setback is 10 feet, and the minimum side setback is five feet. The rear setbacks also differ between the zones.

Smith emphasized that with split zoning, the development will need to consider the standards for each zone and design accordingly to meet coverage, setback and other requirements that vary between the two districts.

Car parking, bicycle parking, walking paths

When discussing parking requirements, Smith noted that the city's parking ratio has recently changed. The new ratio is 0.5 to 1.5 parking stalls per unit. This gives a range of 152 to 456 required stalls for the proposed 300-unit development. 

She also addressed bicycle parking requirements. Long-term bicycle parking for residents is required and can be provided inside each unit or in a designated storage room. Short-term bicycle parking of 1 stall per 10 units is required, totaling about 30 stalls, which must be covered and within 50 feet of building entrances.

Smith brought up the topic of safe walking routes for school children. She noted the development may need to conduct a safe walking analysis as part of the application due to the number of multifamily units proposed. The analysis would need to identify which school children in the development would attend, where they would walk or wait for a bus, and evaluate whether there are any gaps in sidewalk infrastructure or other unsafe conditions. She mentioned the school district may require a bus stop to be located on the project site. She advised reaching out to the school district for feedback on their needs. If issues are identified in the safe walking analysis, improvements could potentially be required as part of the project's mitigation.

Drinking water and stormwater

Senior Engineering Plans examiner Tiffani King noted the site is located in the Allison Springs drinking water protection area for wellhead protection. She referenced a city code that guides this.

King stated infiltration methods for treating stormwater pose an issue due to the Wellhead Protection area. However, the applicant had proposed infiltration galleries or infiltration basins, which the engineering examiner said could be discussed further.

She emphasized the landscaping plan submitted with the project would need to address how wellhead protection standards and mitigation plans would be met, as certain activities are restricted in Wellhead Protection areas. This is something that would need to be evaluated in more depth.

Olympia Affordable Housing Program Manager Jacinda Steltjes said the project qualifies as affordable housing by renting units at or below 30% of the AMI.

As for affordable housing incentives, Steltjes added the developer can apply for an 80% exemption on park/school/transportation impact fees.

There may also be a 50% reduction in General Facility Charges (GFC) if eligible for certain programs.

She added that restrictive covenants would need to be recorded to ensure units remain affordable long-term to receive fee exemptions/reductions.


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