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Arborwood development stalled in stagnant market

KINGSTON — Plans for a 751-unit development south of Kingston crept forward this week. But developers are waiting for a thaw of the chilly housing market before making their next move.

The Arborwood neighborhood, being planned by Olympic Property Group, is slated for a 360-acre parcel at 24828 South Kingston Road NE. The Kitsap County Department of Community Development recently issued a mitigated determination of non-significance for the project under the State Environmental Policy Act. On Thursday the Hearing Examiner took public comment on a preliminary plat/performance based development application for Arborwood. The development is located inside the Kingston Urban Growth (a zone where population growth is planned) and is zoned Urban Cluster Residential, which allows which allows five to nine units per acre and access to public utilities.

DCD planner Dennis Oost said there has been little public comment on the project thus far. No appeals were filed against the determination of non-significance.

“There was some interest early on in the process,” Oost said. “But since then it has been amazingly quiet.”

The plat approval would spell progress, but Arborwood is far from breaking ground. OPG is holding off on designing and permitting while it waits to see whether the housing market will rebound.

“No one is starting anything right now,” OPG President Jon Rose said.

The White Horse Golf Course development, which borders the Arborwood property to the south, went into foreclosure this spring and could be auctioned this summer.

The market was rosier when planning for Arborwood – originally Applewood – began in 1991.

Original designs envisioned a golf course and homes spread over a much larger area. The project has been redesigned several times since then, driven in part by protest from community members and the need to meet Growth Management Act requirements. The planned development has become denser and included more open space in each reincarnation.

“It’s been planned, talked about, designed and redesigned for really 20 years,” Rose said.

The latest plat for the Arborwood neighborhood – submitted to the county in 2007 – shows five clusters of homes, separated by swaths of open space.

The main access to the property would open onto South Kingston Road just north of Hillbend Lane. Near the entrance, two buildings totaling 20,000 square-feet would be set aside for retail.

“If it’s all just homes, you just have a giant subdivision,” Rose said. “There needs to be a social center where people can get a cup of coffee.”

The rest of the development would be a mix of single and duplex family homes, along with a handful of townhouse sites. About 42 percent of the property will be left as open space. Rose said the target demographic will likely be first-time homebuyers, commuters and homeowners looking to downsize.

OPG contracted a traffic study for Arborwood, which has been reviewed by the county.

Upon approval of the Arborwood plan, OPG will free up a second installment of land for the North Kitsap Heritage Park.

The county has already purchased about 450 acres of OPG land near the Arborwood property as a “first phase” of the Heritage Park. OPG has been awaiting approval of its Arborwood plan before it offers another 380 acres for the park, in case designers decided to opt for a more sprawling design.

Included in the Arborwood design is a 100-acre greenway that could connect Kitsap County Heritage Park to the southwest, with the Arness Slough area to the north, bringing the contiguous open space acreage to more than 900.

Below is the Arborwood plat design submitted to the county:

Arborwood Plat

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