Founded in 1954, Mountlake Terrace has changed from a small rural community into a metropolitan suburb with a population of over 21,000 residents. The efforts of the city's pioneers and leaders throughout the decades have created a unique city, filled with many amenities, and a vision for the future.
The residential community of Mountlake Terrace began with the speculative construction of homes for returning World War II veterans and their young families. Within ten years, the population grew to 5,000 and a group of civic-minded residents took steps to create a municipal government. The City of Mountlake Terrace was incorporated on November 29, 1954 under a Council-Manager form of government.
50th Anniversary of Incorporation Celebration
In 2004, the City celebrated its 50th anniversary of incorporation with a year full of special activities and commemorative events, culminating in a Gala Dinner in November. About 400 guests attended the dinner including the first City Clerk, Lucille Foard, original City Attorney William Hennessey, first Fire Chief Patrick McMahan, and former Mayor Dr. Frank Hammer.
Four of the five original Council Members, H. Scott Wilson, Patricia Neibel, Harley McFarland and Lester Steele were present and recalled their fond memories of the City in its infancy while former Mayors Lois Anderson, Dave Gossett, and other past city officials spoke about how the city matured and the challenges they faced. Original Mayor Gil Geiser passed away in 1987. U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell addressed the crowd with stories of her Mountlake Terrace roots. Throughout the evening, past and present residents and employees reminisced about the old days.
In 1961, citizens overwhelming approved a bond issue to build a City Hall with a full range of services to serve its growing population. Senator Henry (Scoop) Jackson attended the dedication of the new building in 1962, and former Mayor Frank Hammer noted, "It was a big event and a proud moment for the community."
Growth & Development
A bustling town center formed during the early decades that included a department store, pharmacy, grocery store, dry cleaners, beauty shop, and restaurants. The opening of Alderwood Mall in neighboring Lynnwood as well as two arson fires in the Mountlake Terrace town center in the 1980s resulted in a downturn for some local businesses.
A Civic Campus developed with the addition of a new public library in 1988, Police Station in 1989, and a new Fire Station #19 opening in 2006. These services were previously located in the City Hall building when it opened in 1962.
A spurt of new construction began along the main street of 56th Avenue in 2005 anticipating opportunities to come. The businesses that survived the economic downturn of the 1980s and arson fires of the early 1990s continue to thrive and serve as landmarks to local residents and attract loyal customers from all over the Puget Sound region.
In 2006, the City Council focused on generating economic development through the creation of a Town Center Plan. The City Council worked in tandem with the community to adopt the Town Center Plan in early 2007 with the hope of revitalizing its downtown to create an economically viable city and retain quality of life for its residents. Downtown properties were hot during the real estate boom of 2006-2008 in anticipation of the new Town Center Plan. A recession hit in late 2008 that put many projects were on hold due to lack of financing. The first major mixed-use project, Arbor Village, finally secured funding and broke ground in January of 2012. Arbor Village opened in August of 2013 and was followed by a number of large mixed-use projects including Vineyard Park (2015) and Mountlake Senior Living (2016).
Since the Town Center Plan was adopted in 2007, new Transit Facilities have followed including Community Transit's Mountlake Terrace Transit Center (2009) and Sound Transit's Freeway Station (2011). Sound Transit's Lynnwood Link Light Rail Extension is under construction and quickly changing the landscape along Interstate 5 through King and South Snohomish Counties. This project will bring light rail service from Seattle to Lynnwood with a station in Mountlake Terrace in 2024.
With the promise of light rail and convenient transportation options, new projects continue to be built downtown and near the transit facilities. Atlas 236 (2021) is across the street from Arbor Village at the corner of 236th Street and 56th Avenue with over 10,000 SF of commercial space and 151 residential units. Terrace Station is a large, three-building mixed use building with 80,000 square feet of commercial space and 600 living units adjacent to the future light rail line and close to the station. Building 1 opened in 2021 and Building 2 is currently under construction.
The city's Main Street Project (Phase I), 236th Street from I-5 to 56th Avenue, was completed in 2020 and serves as a boulevard entrance into our Town Center. This project included reconstructed key roadway segments, widened sidewalks, energy efficient pedestrian and street lighting, undergrounded overhead utilities, improved water, storm, and sewer systems, bicycle lanes, improved ADA access, new traffic signals, new trees and tree grates, and other improvements. Phase II, 56th Avenue from 230th to 236th, is next once full funding is obtained.
Van Ry Boulevard (previously known as Gateway Blvd.) is a new roadway that opened in 2021 that connects 244th Street SW with 236th Street at the Transit Center through the Gateway Place Shopping Complex.
Revitalization of the Town Center in ongoing with new businesses, public and private investments, and the redevelopment of the Civic Campus have re-energized the city.
In 2018, the Council appointed a Town Center and Economic Vitality Task Force that made a recommendation on an updated Town Center Plan. The updated Plan was adopted in 2019.
The Rogers Market property, located at 232nd and 56th Avenue and the Town Center's largest parcel, was sold in 2018 and demolished in 2019. The property was sold to Sound Transit for interim parking while the light rail station is under construction to replace the surface parking at the Mountlake Terrace Transit Center.
Civic Campus Redevelopment
In 2017, voters passed a capital bond to fund a new City Hall and Police Station addition. The project was designed in 2018 and 2019 and constructed in 2020 and 2021. The project, located at 232nd Street and 58th Avenue, will help redefine the Town Center. See the Civic Campus project page for more information.