Lakepointe project in limbo

Developers must wait for road projects halted by passage of I-976

The highly anticipated Lakepointe Property project is in limbo for at least another month until the state figures out what road projects will be funded after the passage of Initiative 976.

The Lakepointe Property project, located at 18808 SE 256th St., has been in the works for seven years, starting with a community plan for the Lakeside Gravel Mine in 2013. Over the years the City of Covington, the developer Oakpointe Communities and Covington residents have planned for a future shopping and residential site in the heart of the city.

The project is 214 acres total and will create 850,000 square feet of retail space and more than 1,500 residential units.

Progress on the project was put on hold after activist Tim Eyman’s I-976 passed, leading to a halt in road construction projects across the state.

The voter approved measure aims to cut car-tab fees to just $30, which would pull tax funding from many local and state entities. The state projected it would lose $4 billion in revenue over six years due to I-976. The City of Covington estimated it would lose about $400,000 in revenue used for road projects.

In November, Governor Jay Inslee put all Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) projects on the shelf in order to curb spending. Only projects that were already underway and in motion were allowed to continue.

“In response to the will of the people, I am taking immediate action,” Inslee stated in a press release in November 2019. “I have directed (WSDOT) to postpone projects not yet underway. I have also asked other state agencies that receive transportation funding, including the Washington State Patrol and the Department of Licensing, to defer nonessential spending as we review impacts.”

One of the WSDOT projects put on the shelf is the Covington Connector project. The Covington Connector project is a $50 million construction project slated to connect Southeast 256th Street at State Route 18 on and off ramps to State Route 516. Covington Mayor Jeff Wagner described the project as “another bypass through downtown Covington drawing people into the Lakepointe Property,” in May 2019.

This is where Lakepointe is held up. According to Oakpointe Communities Director of Marketing Jon Lakefish, until the Covington Connecter project is able to move forward, Lakepointe will be stalled.

“I can’t really speak to anything else until we understand a little bit more,” Lakefish said in a message to The Covington Reporter. “We’ll figure it out as time passes.”

Back in May, Wagner had expected to receive bids on the Covington Connector Project by fall of 2019.

“Once the road gets developed and built, then (Oakpointe) will start on commercial,” Wagner said in a previous article. “So I would say in three years you’ll start seeing hopefully commercial, if not sooner. And then housing units will follow.”

Lakefish is hoping more information on the car tabs initiative will be available in the next month or two.

In May, 2019, the City of Covington began work to create a new special taxing district to let developers use their property as collateral to support construction of a wider range of improvements such as roads, stormwater facilities, park improvements, traffic light or even libraries and schools. This became possible after Inslee signed House Bill 1366 into law on May 7, 2019, which allowed cities to create “community facility districts.”

For now, the state is collecting car tabs at its usual rates and I-976 is facing pending lawsuits from King County and the City of Seattle. The existing asphalt batch plant is operating on site to help fill the previous gravel mine pit. When construction on the Lakepointe Property project does begin, it is estimated to take five to 10 years to complete.


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