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Is Black Diamond next area to boom?

By Kevin Hanson-The Courier-Herald

A major player in Puget Sound real estate development has its eye on Black Diamond, considering the former mining town as perhaps “the next big thing” and investing millions of dollars to potentially bring hundreds of new homes to the generally-quiet community.

It was announced last week that the Yarrow Bay Group, based in Kirkland, has added to its holdings in the area by acquiring 860 acres from Plum Creek Land Company. A sales price and terms of the agreement were not made public. The company previously purchased 320 acres in the Lawson Hills area from Palmer Coking Coal Company and others, and added 400 acres purchased from Washington Real Estate Holdings in August.

Yarrow Bay Group is one of the largest property development and management organizations in the region, with a handful of developments now either in the planning stages, under construction or recently completed, according to the company Web site.

Without going into great detail, a press release noted Yarrow Bay “hopes to create two master planned communities that will align with Black Diamond's vision of the future and meet regional growth needs.”

With nearly 1,600 acres under its control, Yarrow Bay and the city “have an unprecedented opportunity to do things the right way,” said David MacDuff, general manager of the Black Diamond holdings for Yarrow Bay.

By “the right way,” MacDuff was referring to development that would recognize the rural charter of the town; offer a variety of housing types; and incorporate retail development with residential.

Scott Jones, Black Diamond city planner, said the city is prepared “to take on the growth but do it in a very smart way.”

He said the city has had a moratorium on subdivisions until zoning matches the comprehensive plan. Also, the city has been holding off on development until adequate water is available. Now, a 4.5 million gallon reservoir has been built and is being tested.

Yarrow Bay's Web site indicates plans for two developments, Lawson Hills on the east side of town and The Villages on the west. Lawson Hills in identified as primarily residential, while The Villages is seen as a larger area complete with commercial and retail development.

According to the Yarrow Bay release, construction could begin in two to three years, depending on the planning and approval process.

Kevin Hanson can be reached at khanson@courierherald.com.

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