The idea seems common-sense, to build housing on top of park-and-ride lots so residents can just zip downstairs and get on a bus and go...

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The idea seems common-sense, to build housing on top of park-and-ride lots so residents can just zip downstairs and get on a bus and go.

In Redmond, the Village at Overlake Station opened with 308 housing units in March 2002 and did just that.

Now Woodinville is considering something similar. But turning an idea for at least 300 housing units packaged with parking and transit into reality could take years, city officials acknowledge.

Ray Sturtz, Woodinville’s community-development director, said the transit-oriented housing development, (TOHD) as the project is known, is “a big, complicated project,” and it might take two years before changes are apparent.

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Among the issues to be resolved are: arranging shared use of parking stalls during off-peak hours; working out designs for the parking garage; developing at least 30 percent of the units as owned housing; providing public open space; adding a grid road; and arranging financing.

Among the biggest challenges is ensuring that 25 percent of the total housing units qualify as “affordable.”

City documents prepared last summer estimated two-bedroom condos would be available in the development for $165,000 and could be purchased by families making $56,000 a year. That’s about half the $355,000 median sale price reported for King County homes and condos this month by a regional multiple-listing service, up 20 percent from a year ago.

“What’s driving it obviously is the price of the dirt,” said Sturtz.

A public hearing scheduled for next month has been postponed until early next year.

“It needs to mature more,” said City Manager Pete Rose of the transit-oriented housing proposal.

The hearing is a requirement for Woodinville to enter into a development agreement with Sound Transit, a partner in developing the concept.

The project is proposed for the 6 ½-acre Woodinville Park-and-Ride site along 140th Avenue Northeast at Northeast 178th Street.

A report on the proposed project, prepared by former senior planner Gil Cerise, notes that the city has supported the transit-oriented housing development idea since 2000. It formed a citizen-advisory panel to help develop the concept and also formed partnerships with various groups and agencies, including Sound Transit and ARCH, a regional affordable-housing group, to make it work.

“A TOHD at the Woodinville Park-and-Ride site would still provide the city with a number of benefits, including a mixed-use, pedestrian-scale development,” Cerise said.

“However, a number of factors have combined to change the city’s initial perception of the TOHD. Since early in 2005, Sound Transit has maintained that sale of a portion of the park-and-ride property is necessary to allow both ownership housing on the site, and maintain financial feasibility.”

The problem, Cerise said, is that Sound Transit has only $4.9 million available for the work, while it’s expected to cost $10 million to build an elevated parking structure and a transit center.

Money from selling part of the land is expected to make up some of the gap, but the plans also call for spending $2 million to move 209 parking stalls from the present park-and-ride lot to someplace closer to Interstate 405. Park-and-rides there are filled beyond capacity, while the Woodinville park-and-ride is at 40 to 45 percent of capacity, he added.

“Other issues that staff have identified include a stand-alone, above-ground park-and-ride garage that will require creative and innovative design techniques to blend in with the surrounding mixed-use development,” he noted.

Peyton Whitely: 206-464-2259 or