Published February 2006
True Urban Village’
In just a decade, the development of Stanwood-Camano Village has transformed 55 acres of farmland into a $75 million, master-planned retail, industrial, residential and entertainment center with a small-town feeling that people love.
Residents can live close to their work, shop without driving, dine in a variety of restaurants only a short walk away, get medical and dental care, make regular visits to a fitness center and eventually retire to an active lifestyle at a senior care facility — all without leaving the village.
Now 80 percent complete, the community includes Haggen Food and Pharmacy, a new Bartell Drug, eight fast-food venues, three full-service restaurants, a five-screen movie theater, a family game center, a video store, a learning center, two banks and a variety of other businesses, more than 50 in all, with more coming.
Lindstrom Development Group Inc. — owned by Sol Baron; his father, Mayer Baron; and Vice President Jim Robertson — has invested about $50 million in creating the village, while Haggen and others who have built their own facilities have added an estimated $25 million to the development, President Sol Baron said.
The most recent addition to the growing community is Lindstrom’s Village Commons, a $15 million, mixed-use building with 54 condominiums, underground parking, a large central courtyard and views of both the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges. The ground floor will include retail stores and professional offices, Baron said.
Currently, landscaping is putting finishing touches on the Commons in preparation for an open house being planned for February. Baron said a positive sign for the project’s future is that 31 of the 54 condos have already been sold, and nearly 20 of those new owners are living there even as work is being finished.
“The village benefits from the 40,000 people living in and around our community, plus a lot of people are moving north from other areas. We’ve created a true urban village in a rural area, a new neighborhood of Stanwood that is much more than just a shopping center,” Baron said, adding that there’s a lot of energy and activity in the community. “Together with the businesses and services in downtown Stanwood, there’s a lot here to attract attention.”
The Village Commons, with condos ranging from 895 to 1,900 square feet at prices from $219,000 to $483,000, is the cornerstone development for a new streetscape that will connect two existing commercial centers behind the Haggen supermarket and across the parking lot from the five-screen movie theater.
“At the village, we’re returning to a time when people lived in neighborhoods, knew each other, walked to shopping, services and entertainment centers without driving and led less stressful lives,” Baron said. “We want to make life more dynamic, restful and interesting for people.”
The Commons, which will have stores and services on the first floor of the four-story building, provides each living unit with a patio area with room for a table and chairs in front of each unit, overlooking a private, 18,000-square-foot courtyard designed to attract people for relaxing and visiting. The walkways on each floor of the condos not only provide access but also make it easy for residents to see and know each other more easily, Baron said.
“We’ve gotten marvelous designer work for the Commons from two Stanwood firms, Dave Nelson’s architectural firm, Designs Northwest, and H2K Design,” Baron said.
Windermere Realty in the village is handling sales of the condominiums, and Windermere’s commercial division works with business tenants.
This summer, even as businesses begin filling space in the Commons, Baron will begin construction of another residential and retail building a few hundred feet away, on the east side of the village.
“This new mixed-use building, the Village Square, will fill the gap between the existing theater, with its covered courtyard and three adjacent restaurants, and the retail area where Subway is now,” said Robertson. “There will be 44 condominiums and 6,000 square feet of commercial space.”
Robertson and Baron expect the new businesses in both the Village Commons and the Village Square developments will bring more variety to the village’s already varied mix of commercial enterprises and service firms.
“We’d like to see more food businesses, to add to the variety, and more doctors and dentists, even home and kitchen stores. This is a highly attractive area for residents, visitors and businesses,” Baron said, “but simply opening a business in the village is no guarantee of success, which some former owners discovered.”
What makes the difference for successful businesses here is what makes the difference everywhere — service, good products, friendliness, he said.
“It’s up to the owner. We’ve had some good businesses here that failed because they thought they could just open up the doors and the place would fill up. But when you provide great service with your business, it makes a difference. One very friendly and popular restaurant here started out with $30,000 to $40,000 a month in business and now does $125,000.”
Later, a third residential and commercial building is planned near Index Sensors & Controls, a former Redmond high-tech firm that anchors the village’s industrial zone, where Baron plans to develop more jobs in the village. Currently, Index Sensors, with around 100 employees, is the only tenant in that sector. The area is wired for Verizon’s SmartPark array of telecommunications and high-speed DSL Internet services.
Creating more local jobs, Baron said, was a big part of the original concept for the village, to provide work options for people in the long lines of vehicles that left Stanwood each morning for jobs elsewhere.
“My dad had a vision even in the late 1980s about this development, on this site,” Baron said. “He foresaw restaurants, a movie theater and a sports club. Along the way, we’ve been helped by strong population growth and a setting that attracts people. Also, Stanwood has developed a downtown that reflects its history and attracted people with antique stores and art galleries.”
The presence of Stanwood-Camano Village and the general growth in the area also has helped downtown Stanwood to develop, he said, noting that the most recent change is a new QFC grocery and shopping plaza with more than a dozen new businesses.
“People are discovering Stanwood because we have a unique location, with freeway access, water properties on Camano Island, housing and job opportunities, and a great quality of life that includes a rural setting and mountain views. Stanwood is a great place to be,” Baron said.
© 2006 The Daily Herald Co., Everett, WA