Dance academy

Studio West Dance Academy is looking to build a studio in southern Olympia

By Lorilyn C. Lirio

Olympia’s site plan committee reviewed a project proposal yesterday, including the construction of a new building for Studio West Dance Academy at 1525 Palomino Drive SE.

In a proposal submitted by Anderson Architecture, the building would be constructed on a 1.36-acre parcel in the Professional Office/Multi-Family Residential District (PO/RM) area. The location is just off Henderson, a block south of the Yelm Highway corner.

The project proposal is for a new, one-story, 11,219-square-foot wood-frame building to accommodate the dance studio and associated site works, according to Scott Anderson of Anderson Architect.

“Studio West has had a dance academy on the west side of Olympia on Black Lake Boulevard for many years. They’re outgrowing their facility there,” Anderson said.

He added that they had researched and studied different places, including the renovation of existing buildings. They found a property on Palomino Drive and worked on the development potential of the land there.

Anderson said they were designing an 11,000 square foot facility with adequate parking and a circular drive for front door drop off. The project would exceed the city code size limit. However, Anderson asked the site’s review team about the limitations of their project for the dance studio. He said there is a section in the municipal code that dance studios must not exceed 5,000 square feet if they are in a PO/RM area. “Why are we limiting dance studios to 5,000 square feet? Is there a way to mitigate that so we can build something that meets our needs in an adjoining building?”

The architect noted that PO/RM areas around the city vary in size. He added that some buildings in this area are primarily offices, small retail or medical facilities, ranging in size from 1,000 square feet to 35,000 square feet.

The property has recently been rezoned

Tim Smith, assistant director of community development and planning, said the site had recently been zoned as a PO/RM.

“The intention of the PO/RM is to provide transitional zoning between single family and more intended for commercial uses. In this case, the east, south and west properties have a single family. Residents are very concerned about the future development of this property,” Smith explained.

He added that the village of Briggs across the street is a master plan village area with different rules.

Responding to Anderson’s request, Smith said a code amendment was needed. “You’d be in for an uphill battle. It’s not impossible, but at this point [that] zoning provides that very purpose of limiting commercial size in those areas.”

Planning recommendation

Assistant planner Casey Schaufler pointed out that it’s not just dance studios that have a 5,000 square foot limit. He said grocery stores and general merchandise stores have the same restriction.

As for the planning design, Schaufler recommended possibly creating two 5,000 square foot structures on the site or dividing the buildings.

He added that redesigning and building more structures solved the limitation. “It would provide opportunities in the future. Even if you change your location, this site could house different businesses in this direction.”

Reviewing the recommendation, dance academy owner Stephanie Wood asked how far apart buildings could be located so children could safely transfer studios and staff to be connected.

She said security issues are one of the reasons they want to be under one roof.

Senior Planner Nicole Floyd provided information that a six-foot minimum distancing may be enforced depending on the zoning code for isolated structures.

Schaufler said the developer could request the zoning code change. Still, they have to go through a process, including a hearing examiner and then city council approval. “It’s an option, but it will prolong the [project] timeline to a significant degree.