Milestones

Key milestones in the Isthmus Park phase of the story include:

  • December 2014 – With the help from an engineering battalion from the US Army, work begins on the demolition of the former Housing Authority building on the site of the planned Olympic Capitol Vista Park on the Isthmus.The demolition of this first building is expected to be complete by mid-January. The city plans to remove the former Health Department building in the spring of 2015. Once these two buildings are taken down, we move to the next tasks of developing the first phase of the park, and to finding the resources needed to acquire and demolish the vacant nine story building that now sits in the center of the iconic view from the Capitol to the Olympics.
  • December 17, 2013 – On December 17, 2013, the Olympia Capitol Park Foundation presented a check for $100,000 to the city of Olympia to support removal of derelict buildings on the site of Phase I of the Capitol Olympic Vista Park. The Foundation announced its goal to raise an additional $300,000 for site preparation.
  • June 12, 2013 – The city of Olympia purchased 2.3 acres on the Isthmus for $3.3 million. The site acquired was previously proposed for development as a high-rise condominium project. This was the first land acquisition needed for the Capitol Olympic Vista Park.
  • April 28, 2013 – The Olympian Editorial Board endorses purchase and sale agreement.
  • April 23,2013 – The Olympia City Council approved a purchase and sale agreement with the owner of two parcels of land needed to build the Capitol Olympic Vista Park. These  parcels total 2.3 acres and were the site of the previously proposed high condominium project called Larida Passage. The total purchase price will be $3.3 million and was made contingent upon receiving state funds in addition to the $2.3 million available from the city and Thurston county. Closing was scheduled no later than June 15, 2013.
  • December 13, 2011 – The Olympia City Council approved an allocation of $1 million, in the city’s Capital Facilities Plan, to help with land acquisition for the Park. This allocation meets, in part, the matching funds requirement of the Thurston County Conservation Futures grant for $600,000 awarded in August of 2011.
  • November 18, 2011 – The citizens of Thurston County recently named the Capitol Olympic Vista the NUMBER ONE WONDER of Thurston County. This was a result of an on-line poll. The results are now on the County’s website.
  • July 29, 2011 – Olympia Hearings Examiner, Thomas Bjorgen, issued a decision that upheld the request of the owners of the Capitol Center Building (the mistake by the lake) for a change of use permit to allow the building to be converted into a hotel. However, the hearings examiner conditioned the permit by prohibiting any hotel related use of any of the property within shoreline jurisdiction (200 feet from Capitol Lake or Budd Inlet) including use of the two parking lots across 4th Avenue in front of the Olympia Yacht Club that are located within 200 feet of the Budd Bay shoreline and owned by a related company. The full decision can be viewed here).The owners of the building and property have appealed the restriction on the use of the parking lots in the shoreline zone. The Olympia Isthmus Park Association, the former governors, and others counter-appealed the decision to allow the change of use to a hotel. A hearing on the case has been scheduled for February 10, 2012 before Superior Court Judge Pomeroy.
  • July 5, 2011 – The Thurston County Board of Commissioners agreed, unanimously, to award a $600,000 Conservation Futures grant to assist with land acquisition on the Isthmus for Phase I in the development of the Capitol/Olympic Vista Park. Phase I includes the western part of the Isthmus that was previously proposed for high-rise condominium development. The grant was conditioned upon our ability to raise an additional $1 million within one year, and the entire amount (now estimated at $3 million) needed for Phase I within two years. We are confident that, working with our partners at the City of Olympia, the Trust for Public Land, and other community supporters, we can meet these expectations.
  • March 2011 – The First Citizen’s Bank scheduled a foreclosure sale on the two parcels of land that would have been the site of the Larida Passage condominiums on the Isthmus. At the last moment, the foreclosure was postponed because the owner of the property filed for bankruptcy.
  • December 2010 – The Olympia City Council enacted a permanent zoning designation of the Isthmus as Urban Waterfront Housing (UW- H) with a 35 foot height limit. This restores the height limit to the level that existed in 2008.
  • September 2010 – Our Foundation successfully concluded its initial fund raising campaign by gathering over $100,000 in donations and pledges from local park supporters.
  • August 2010 – The City Council votes unanimously to include the Isthmus Park on the city’s Parks, Arts and Recreation Plan as a public-private partnership.
  • February 2010 – The City Council, led by three new members, votes unanimously to restore the prior zoning with the 35 foot height limit.
  • December 2009 – Olympia’s Design Review Committee recommends against the Building Plans for the high-rise project on the Isthmus.
  • November 2009 – City Council elections select three new members who oppose the re-zone. The central issue in the election was widespread community opposition to the re-zone decision made by the council in December 2008.
  • February 2009 – The Washington State Senate approves a bill declaring the Isthmus a “shoreline of statewide significance” and re-imposing a height limitation of 35 feet. This bill does not pass the House.
  • January 2009 – The Isthmus Park Association appeals the re-zone to the Growth Management Appeals Board and files suit in Superior Court to block the re-zone. The Association is joined in these appeals by three former Washington Governors and a former Secretary of State.
  • December 2008 – Despite strong evidence of community opposition, the City Council with a 5-2 vote approves the requested re-zone to raise the height limit to 100 feet.
  • October 2008 – City Council agrees to conduct feasibility study which concludes that the Park is feasible provided that there is cooperation between the community the city and the state government.
  • Friends of the Waterfront and the Isthmus Park Association gather nearly 5000 signatures on the Initiative. This was the first successful citizen’s initiative in Olympia since 1955.
  • Fall 2008 – All six living former Governors issue proclamation and video in support of including Isthmus as part of Heritage Park.
  • August 2008 – Isthmus Park Association formed to organize a citizens’ initiative to require the City of Olympia to conduct a feasibility study of creating a Park on the Isthmus. The Olympia Capitol Park Foundation formed at the same time to begin raising funds for the Park.
  • Spring 2008 – Friends of the Waterfront mobilize community opposition to the re-zone.
  • Spring 2008 – High-rise condominiums proposed on the Isthmus requiring a re-zone to take the height limit from 35 feet to 100 feet.