Samish Station: New Student Housing

by Giovanni Roverso

The Samish Station “boutique” student housing will be completed in the Samish urban village area. Geared toward students, construction on the Samish Station housing project is underway by Genetic Electric, LLC, and residents should be moving in fall 2019, according to Jackie Hall, the manager at Local Property Management. The target market is Western Washington University students.

But Samish Station isn’t your run-of-the-mill apartment complex according to property owner, David Ebenal, whose company Summit Construction renovated the Mount Baker Theater and built a variety of properties around Bellingham like Cascadia Elementary, Village Books in Fairhaven and Fairhaven Harbor Apartments, completed in fall 2018.

Like Fairhaven Harbor, Samish Station is marketed as high end. Hall said Fairhaven Harbor luxury apartments was a $25 million project. Samish Station, made up of two buildings with a parking lot between them, was inspired by Fairhaven Harbor, is easily a $17 million dollar project. She said pricing would be available on the studios and two- and three-bedroom apartments in fall 2019.

Ebenal said the price would be competitive, while the build quality would be higher than the competition. In terms of pricing, he said the units would be priced somewhere between the NXNW/Lark Housing units which usually go between $735 and $825 and Gateway Apartments which go from $992 to $1,369. All utilities are to be included in the price according to the website and it’s pet friendly.

As for quality, Hall said the unit would feature quartz countertops, stainless steel appliances, hardwood-style plank flooring and solid wood cabinets. Hall said the rooms would have USB charging outlets supporting Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0.

The units should also be quieter than usual, Hall said. This is thanks to insulation and 5/8-inch thick drywall on either wall of studs between units and with gypcrete concrete in the floors, Hall said.

Fits Urban Village Subarea Plan
Samish Station, Ebenal said, fits into the greater York and Sehome urban village subarea plan. The plan aims to rejuvenate Samish Way and the surrounding area by establishing new residential and commercial focal points which foster community interaction with sustainable and quality design. The area was rezoned in 2009 under city of Bellingham Ordinance 2009-11-069.

Hall said they are considering whether to include subsidized bus passes. Whatcom Transportation Authority has GO bus lines running every 15 minutes on weekdays. Blue line buses can connect students on North Samish Way with the WWU campus.

For those who wish to have parking, Ebenal said plans are to have parking available for a third of the units, in addition to bicycle parking. An underground parking garage is being built under the building closest to U.S. Interstate 5. Ebenal said he is in talks with half a dozen restaurants about filling the commercial space in the building closest to Samish Way.

Jacquelyn Lynch, planner at the city of Bellingham Planning and Community Development Department, said there would be street parking on 37th Street, which is due to be expanded to be 46-feet wide. The current sidewalk on Samish Way will also be brought in toward the building about 10 to 15 feet.

Hall said residential parking spaces would remain separate, but some mixed usage parking would be available. Lynch said that as a city planner, she would rather see 85 percent of parking spaces geared toward mixed use, since it would maximize their use, especially during the daytime when residents are least likely to be home and people come to find parking to access local businesses.

Samish Station, being built at 109 Samish Way, is one of the two first housing projects to be completed in the urban village area. The Bellingham Housing Authority is also building a mixed residential and commercial space at 315 Samish Way to be built in two stages, the first of which will get underway in mid-2019.

Lynch said the city infrastructure in terms water pressure and sewer capacity on North Samish Way is well-equipped to support new residential projects and hopes tax revenue from the projects will be able to fund the cost of hooking them up.

 Jackie Hall, Manager, Local Property Management

 David Ebenal, Owner of Samish Studios LLC, Summit Construction, Bellingham Land Management LLC

 Jacquelyn Lynch, American Institute of Certified Planners, Certified Environmental Planner, Planning and Community Development Department

Giovanni A. Roverso is an Italian-American student at Western Washington University, focusing on visual journalism, website design and liberal studies.

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