“Construction of the 90-unit apartments and 1,500-square-foot commercial property on Creek Street is well under way in Yelm, shown here on Tuesday, July 9.
Photo credit: Tony Overman, Staff Photographer The Olympian.
This report was filed by Rolf Boone of The Olympian:
“Growth has returned to one of the fastest-growing communities in Thurston County, reawakening building activity at once-dormant subdivisions and bringing new commercial tenants to town.
That community is the city of Yelm, which doubled in population between 2000 and 2010, according to U.S. census data.
But like most communities, Yelm felt the effects of the slower economy, particularly as it related to the real estate market.
Thats not evident today, said Grant Beck, who has spent 10 years with the city as its community development department director.
Driving Yelms growth, both recent and current, is the citys proximity to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, providing a home for those who serve and work at the base.”
“So far through June, the city has issued 74 single-family building permits, with another 30 under review, compared with a total of 114 for all of 2012, Beck said.
More multifamily construction is underway, too, including the Creek Road mixed-use apartments.
Ninety of 200-some apartments are under construction and it also has about 7,000 square feet of commercial space, he said.
But what really stands out in Becks mind is that local builders are snapping up vacant lots at some of the nine subdivisions in the city, or they have purchased entirely vacant subdivisions essentially just raw dirt because the once-proposed subdivision was left for dead once the housing market went bust.”
What Beck omits is equally important and not reported by Boone:
1. Thurston County Superior Court will hear a citizen’s appeal on the more-then-doubling of the City of Yelm’s water rights. If the water rights are repealed, Yelm’s growth will be stopped in it’s tracks.
2. As troops return home from Afghanistan and are discharged, they and their families will not remain here in Yelm in-proximity to JBLM, rather return to their homes of origin.
3. I have sat down and spoken to developers here and they all say the same thing:
Yelm is a community that will eventually implode economically because the focus of Community Development Director Beck is his single-mindedness in permitting residential home construction. They describe a city where there are few long-term businesses created, many have closed or are closing and few to no job opportunities are created here – a bedroom-only community will cease to bring expanding tax-revenue to the city once prime development lots are tapped-out with permits, a phase developers say Yelm is reaching very fast.
4. Yelm’s traffic issue has never subsided, with vehicles, noise, pollution and now through traffic avoiding stops at Yelm Avenue businesses, instead traversing the Inner Loop during rush hours.