Harbor Urban Presents Plans for 173-Unit Apartments for Town Square; + a Poll

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Developers Harbor Urban presented new conceptual design plans for the proposed development of Phase II of the Town Square Project to Burien City Staff on Sept. 14.

Construction of the proposal put forth by Harbor Urban would begin with a 173-unit “high-quality, market-rate” apartment community on Parcel 5. Development of the conceptual plan was a collaborative effort lead by Harbor Urban with input from City staff, property management firms and market study experts.

“The development of a residential complex in downtown Burien will contribute to a vibrant Burien Town Square,” reads an announcement. “Harbor Urban’s plans for Parcel 5 reflect decades of experience designing and developing Transit Oriented Developments and urban mixed use projects throughout the Puget Sound region.”

“We feel very good about the direction the design is headed,” said Amy Hoffman, development manager for the project with Harbor Urban. “The conceptual design takes into account features that are important to the City of Burien and to the sophisticated renter of today. It’s a thoughtful, quality building that continues to help activate the Town Square and the City of Burien.”

A final decision on whether or not to amend the DDA and continue to pursue the new conceptual design from council is expected by Nov. 15. If the council chooses to move forward, further design work will proceed through a formal schematic design process with groundbreaking anticipated to begin in the third quarter 2013.

As many of our Readers may have noticed, there have been some concerns about these apartment plans (read our previous coverage here).

What do YOU think? Please vote in our Poll, or leave a Comment below…

Should Apartments be built in the remaining Town Square parcels?

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20 Responses to “Harbor Urban Presents Plans for 173-Unit Apartments for Town Square; + a Poll”
  1. wheels says:

    The “Sophisticated Renter”. Who is that? Burien is not cutting edge, fashionable, or chic. Burien is affordable. If people come here to buy affordable houses, that’s one thing. They have an investment in the community, and they have a reason to protect their investment in their home. Renters will come to Burien if it is affordable, cheap and temporary. This was why Burien citizens voted to incorporate in the first place, to stop the dumping of all King County’s affordable housing here. Burien has enough apartments. If you look at any map of crime in Burien, you will see that most crime happens in rental housing. I am not saying that all renters are criminals, obviously. What I am saying is that people who rent usually aren’t choosing a place to put down roots and become a part of the community. When I rented, I rented the least crappy place I could afford that was not too far from my work.I didn’t try to get to know all my neighbors. I wasn’t thinking of investing in a place. When people buy homes, they think of how to protect their investment. Home buyers have more incentive to keep a neighborhood clean and safe. Apartments are a bad idea. Harbor Urban is thinking of what will make money for them, not what is best for the long term for Burien.

    • Xanna Don't says:

      We just moved to Burien last week and we’re renting. We probably always will be. We almost bought a condo in Atlanta and are very relieved that we didn’t: my wife got laid off from CNN there after 8 years last xmas and just got a tv news job in Seattle. I think there are a lot of renters in our middle-aged demographic who are gun shy to buy in this economy and don’t foresee it turning around in time for us. So I don’t think it’s fair to characterize renters as people who generally don’t invest in their communities. We were very active in Atlanta and even had a top mayoral candidate come to our going away party. Renting doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t want to put down roots; it can simply mean you’re astute about the forces that can brutally rip them up.

  2. wheels says:

    Further, Harbor Urban is trying to time the market. They got into the Condo Bubble just before it burst. Market conditions now favor apartments, but will they get the project done just at the moment the pendulum swings back to condos? Will Burien have 173 new apartments just when the housing market recovers and people take advantage of low interest rates to start buying homes again? Harbor Urban got phase one so disastrously wrong that the project was taken from them. Why trust them now?

  3. Eaton B. Verz says:

    ” to stop the dumping of all King County’s affordable housing here.”

    Isn’t this one of the big reasons the pro annexation group is pushing? HMMMMM…….

    • tophat topcat says:

      Hey Eaton,
      Forget the apartments issue I just want to know what this “Spot the Sausage” thing is all about, if I should attend and what to wear. Advice please on this hot topic. Thanks from TopHat

  4. K M says:

    The (existing) mixed use development didn’t work, why not try something different? Repeating the same failed development and expecting a different outcome is just insane.

  5. Huh? says:

    Yes. Make this new development look like government funded poor housing. And don’t forget to paint the buildings bright orange and red. Please add some lime green to make them look even more hideous. Do not bother with civic developments, such as art, culture, or a nice recreational facility with an indoor pool. Burien residents are too stupid and fat – they don’t deserve it. Don’t build a nice hotel/convention center to attract visitors as a quiet alternative to Pacific Highway airport hotels. We would not want to do anything to boost the local retail businesses. What ever you do, do not even think about building an office complex. We would not want to generate any more business income tax than we have to.

    • mike says:

      huh? RE;We would not want to generate any more business income tax than we have to.

      I know your right. They’re going to raise the B&O taxes on Area Y businesses like has never been seen before. They just aren’t telling the residents and business owners during their annexation informational meetings. Nor are they telling them the council and manager (haha) wont listen to their ideas. Is anyone actually attending those dog and pony shows? Speaking of dogs and ponies, are they telling Area Y about CARES? That information alone would get everyone with pets to vote NO. And that alone should be enough to kill the annexation. Vote No on annexation

      Area Y Mike

  6. Robbie Howell says:

    This project will be very bad for Burien. It will turn prime property into a Ghetto. Already the adjoining properties have excessive vandalism and robberies because of the many apartments that are located a few blocks away. Many young people cause disruptions at the Burien Library. They pee in the elevator and the police have to be called to break up gang fights and other altercations and disruptions. There have been shootings near the transit center, and many other criminal activities occur near the the Dollar Tree and Burger King. When the artist came to paint the mural on the west wall of the Dollar Tree, she had her purse with all her ID and her computer stolen. Towards the end of her stay some bum accosted her.

    I am happy the Burien Town Square Park is being used in the summer, but on some days it is already filled to capacity. When these huge apartments are built it will be totally inadequate to accommodate everyone from the apartments. What was once a destination park for everyone will be a local play ground for the apartments.

    There is much more crime in Burien than is reported because the only crimes that are published in the public police reports are car vandalism and house break-ins. This will be a terrible waste of what could have been a community asset.

  7. Coverofnight says:

    Interesting how the community development director resigns at the same time this development is announced…..rats jumping from a sinking ship?

    • Shari says:

      I hear you. But maybe this is also an opportunity for Burien to get someone with a fire in his or her belly for Burien and to come at this place with a lot of energy, innovative ideas, and a desire to make things happen for Burien vs. letting things happen to Burien. ?

  8. Hotrodgal says:

    Been snobs long?
    Take time to visit any neighboring city with high end apartments and you certainly DO
    NOT find ghetto conditions. In fact, nuturing housing for buisness professionals is all
    good. Do you really believe expensive apartment housing is going to cultivate low end
    renters? NO, of course not. People go where the jobs, schools and housing is.

    • Girthman says:


      Lived in Burien long? The Burien Garden apartments on Ambaum were billed as ‘apartment homes’ for working families nearly 40 years ago and now look at them — the name may have changed but they have definitely gone down hill since that time. How about the apartments surrounding Highline High School? And the apartments just north of 128th on Ambaum? Apartments might start out looking nice, but with time comes decay and that brings tenants that are anything but ‘business professionals’. Do you really want that social element in the heart of Burien? The Burien City Council sold the Town Square concept on the premise that only condos (with retail businesses below) would be built there. Why? Because existing residents didn’t want apartments with a transient population, they wanted condos with long-time owners that have a vested interest in the future of Burien. I think it’s time for you to remove your rose colored glasses and get a clue — more apartments in downtown Burien WILL turn Burien into a ghetto.

  9. Carol Vernon says:

    Another terrible idea from our Burien city council and manager. We incorporated in large part to stop the rampant increase of apartments and all their attendant problems.

    All we’ve gotten from this developer is a retail wasteland, years of stagnation, a frankly ugly too-big building on 152nd. This prime area should have been home to something akin the Renton’s The Landing. None of the ‘good stuff’ we were promised has come to fruition. Why should we trust them now?

    • Flashdog says:

      That’s a good point, Carol. I have always looked at that huge, empty building with compassion because I thought the developer was merely unlucky. He finished the building just when the economy killed any chance of selling or renting space. But you are RIGHT! Renton’s Landing was built at about the same time and it is doing wonderfully. I am changing my opinion after reading your post. Yes! WHY can’t we have something as terrific as Renton’s Landing?! Let Renton build some apartments. Burien needs a fun, flourishing business area.

    • Mike says:

      And now Martin and co want to come over here and raise taxes and fees and have THEIR way with Area Y. Everyone knows raising taxes kills growth. Looks like Martin and the nimrods that picked him are the kiss of death. Keep them over there. We have a prospering town center. We don’t need any of their “magic” to turn things around. Vote NO on annexation.

      Area Y Mike

  10. Robbie Howell says:

    The Landing Apartments sound good on the surface, but next time you go to The Landing, notice the huge, huge, huge apartment complex that has store fronts. These storefronts have occupants. Those apartments are perfect for the huge retail center which has lots of free parking. Those apartments do not infringe on Renton’s ability to have Arts and Economic Development. In it’s case I believe it is good for Renton because of the total

    The powers of Burien want to fill up the only two prime lots (which are small by comparison for a Town Square) with medium to low income housing. As I see it, Burien needs to create Economic Development in BURIEN TOWN SQUARE on these two lots. What ever goes in there needs to wow our visitors. Like it or not, in the long run, low to medium income apartments will be stagnation for Burien. Burien has other land to build apartments on.

    • mike says:

      Yes they do. Don’t bring your bad ideas over here in the hood.Keep martin and his cronies over there in burien. Y’all elected the council, they brought in martin. We don’t need or want your type of gov’mnt.


      Area Y Mike

    • mypov says:

      Ms. Howell, I feel like you might be misrepresenting the situation – at least based on the article above. Where did they mention low to medium income apartments? The only thing mentioned by HU was a ‘high-quality, market-rate apartment community.’ And please explain what you mean by ‘Economic Development in Town Square’. It seems to me, bringing in 100+ ‘sophisticated renters’ would only contribute to the economic development in Burien. We aren’t short store-fronts so that isn’t the missing component so why not bring in bodies? If HU is truly talking high(er)-end apartments I don’t see this as anything but a win for the economic development of Burien.

  11. Nathan says:

    Generalizations, generalizations, generalizations…

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