Pullman, Washington approves largest mixed-use residential development for downtown

 Known as the Evolve on Main building, the complex is intended for retail businesses as well as student housing. Photo provided by Jason Radtke.

Known as the Evolve on Main building, the complex is intended for retail businesses as well as student housing. Photo provided by Jason Radtke.

by Jason Radtke, Pullman, Washington

Third floor plans.

Last June, the City of Pullman, Washington, approved a new downtown development. This project has generated a lot of buzz around town. Known as the Evolve on Main building, the complex is intended for retail businesses as well as student housing. It will be the largest mixed-use residential development in Pullman’s downtown.

The building itself will consist of retail uses on the ground floor, parking on the second and third levels, and apartments on the fourth and fifth floors. We feel it would be a boon to the Washington State University (WSU) student community, as the apartments are intended to be low-income housing. It is located in our downtown, which is actually a short walk from campus.

Pullman has been experiencing an explosion in multi-family development in the past few years. This is primarily because each year, enrollment at WSU grows significantly. Pullman’s current population of over 33,000 residents represents a nearly ten-and-a-half-percent increase from the 2010 census. However, students make up almost 61 percent of the population. The proposal adds necessary housing for students moving from the dorms into the community, making room for a booming freshman population. Evolve on Main will provide students with an opportunity for independent living while still being able to make it to classes quickly and easily.

That’s not to say that its impacts to the community weren’t fairly significant. This will be one of the largest and tallest developments in downtown Pullman. The project is located in our C2 Central Business zoning district, which has no off-street parking requirement. With 82 new apartments, this became a concern amongst the citizens of Pullman. However, the developer is providing 112 parking stalls, as well as over 200 bicycle parking spaces.

First floor plans

The parking spaces on the ground floor are open to the public, and will likely be utilized by customers visiting shops on the ground floor. This is due to the code stipulation that no residential uses, including parking for residences, are allowed on the ground floor in this particular zoning district. The parking on the second and third levels will be reserved for students. In addition, conditions were applied during the review process to try and make public transportation more appealing to residents, such as making a certain number of bus passes available to people living there.

This proposal was reviewed by our Historic Preservation Commission, as a nearly 50-year-old bank was demolished to make way for construction. It also required a conditional use permit in order to increase density and a floodplain variance.

As you can see from the picture, construction is well underway. Most of the next steps for this project, at least from the city’s perspective, consist mainly of our Protective Inspections Division performing inspections for compliance with the city’s building codes. This project will also relieve some development pressure from Pullman’s College Hill, an area directly adjacent to campus that contains some of the city’s oldest houses.


Jason Radtke is the Assistant Planner for the City of Pullman in Washington. He has worked in both city and tribal planning.


Published in April 2018

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