BirchBay residential market continues to rev up

Published on Thu, Jun 30, 2005 by ack Kintner

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Birch Bay residential market continues to rev up

By Jack Kintner

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Birch Bay Water and Sewer District (BBWSD) engineer Dan Eisses, referring to the dramatic increase in developers with projects underway in Birch Bay. Eisses, though new last year to Birch Bay, has been a civil engineer in western Washington for 18 years.

In a June 9 report to the BBSWD board of directors, Eisses listed 1,283 lots or Equivalent Living Units (ELU) that are either under construction and have service contracts or are in the permitting process and have been promised service with a “will serve” letter, plus a 100,000 square foot nine-store commercial development that includes a grocery store.

“ELUs are a way of measuring water consumption and impact on the waste water system,” Eisses said. “One ELU is assumed to be equal to an average single family residential home. A condominium unit or a motel room’s usage and impact is then estimated in ELUs, so for example a motel room is considered to be one-half an ELU,” Eisses said.

“In the last 17 years we’ve seen just under 70 percent growth in ELUs that have water service and just over 70 percent for those that have sewer service,” said Eisses. He added that since 1988 water ELUs have gone from 4,018 to 6,790, and sewer ELUs have gone from 3,483 to 6,002. The figures are not the same because more ELUs have water than sewer service.

Currently, 12 projects are underway and have contracts with BBWSD for service extensions, and another 10 have received an “active will serve letter” from the district, required by the county before construction can proceed.

The 12 projects include Bill Grant’s 51-unit time-share Sandcastle condominium, some of which are commercial, another 11 units of residential condominiums and 479 residential lots in nine different developments.

The residential developments range from a low of two lots on Sylvia Street being developed by Ebenal General, Inc., to Bay Crest South’s 157 lots. Residential condominiums under way include the 12 unit Anchor Village on Blaine Road south of Birch Bay-Lynden Road and Homestead Northwest’s 55-unit Great Links at the Bay near the entrance to Birch Bay Leisure Park.

The 10 projects that have received ‘will serve’ letters include another Bay View’s 299 ELUs, being developed by Fred Bovenkamp, three condominium projects with 12, 21 and 90 units, respectively, and another 180 lots in five other residential areas.

In addition, a developer called Mayflower Equities has received a ‘will serve’ letter for a “phased commercial retail development parcel” at 4565 Birch Bay-Lynden road. Plans call for nine stores in 100,000 square feet of commercial space just west of the Blaine Road intersection. The anchor store is said to be a grocery built by Bellingham’s Brown and Cole, operators of Blaine’s Cost Cutter Market and a partner with Mayflower in the project.

Just exactly what kind of grocery store they’ll build has not yet been decided, said Brown and Coles representative Sue Cole. “We are at this time only in pre-application process. There are no plans yet firmed up to announce regarding format, type of supermarket, store size, other occupants and so on since we are very early in this process,” Cole said. Architect for the new store is David Christensen of Bellingham, and Mike Dispigno of David Evans & Associates is the project engineer.