Newcastle has grown 28 percent since 2000
August 13, 2009
Fueled by a housing boom, Newcastle added more than 2,000 residents since the start of the decade. Now, as the burgeoning bedroom community looks toward a second decade of growth, city officials said the next phase would be more measured, with a focus on bringing more jobs to Newcastle.
Figures released in late June by the state Office of Financial Management show the city’s April 2009 population at 9,925. In April 2000, Newcastle was home to 7,737 people. State officials use the population data to determine how dollars will be allotted to municipalities.
Newcastle grew by 28.3 percent* during the time period, the result of residents flocking to the Eastside city for new housing. Unlike other Eastside cities that expanded limits — and populations — through annexation, Newcastle grew entirely as a result of an influx of residents.
Ensuing population growth made the city the 43rd fastest growing in Washington. Yet, the growth still caused Newcastle to outpace expectations.
“We’re small, so percentage-wise, it wasn’t huge, but it was significant,” city Community Development Director Steve Roberge said.
Roberge said regional planners set 20-year growth targets for Newcastle in 2002. Planners predicted the city would add about 700 households and 500 jobs by 2022. Roberge said the city easily met the jobs target and had closed in on the household target as well.
Newcastle is the 75th largest city in the state; the city ranked 81st in 2000. Seattle, with 602,000 residents, remains Washington’s largest city.
Snoqualmie — the fastest growing city — ballooned by 8,099 residents during the first year of the decade to 9,730 people today.
When state officials released the population figures, they noted how the recession would impact Evergreen State population growth.
“The continued housing contraction nationwide and poor economic conditions appear to be limiting the mobility of the population usually influenced by labor market opportunities,” Theresa Lowe, the state’s chief demographer, said in a news release. “Many job seekers are finding it difficult to sell their homes or to relocate to accept employment at the price of paying two mortgages for an extended period.”
Roberge and city Communications Manager Doug Alder said city officials and staffers were taking steps to position the city for growth once the recession turns to recovery. Alder said attracting new businesses to Newcastle is key to the next phase of growth.
Planners are exploring ways to remake the downtown into a pedestrian-friendly urban village.
“We’re going to be in a better position when the economy fully turns around,” Alder said.
Newcastle was buoyed last month when Money magazine listed the city at No. 17 in the Best Places to Live 2009 issue. Newcastle was lauded for its proximity to major employers Boeing and Microsoft. The magazine also noted the favorable real estate market.
“Homebuyers can find properties at a great variety of prices, from $350,000 3-bedroom, 2-car-garage ramblers to brand-new $6 million estates,” the magazine said.
Roberge and Alder said another part of Newcastle’s prestige relates to the 350-acre Golf Club at Newcastle.
Roberge said the city could add about 1,200 additional households, a roughly 50-50 mix of single-family homes and multifamily units. Newcastle also has the capacity to add about 875 more jobs, though creating space for new employers would probably require more dense redevelopment, Roberge said.
Growth by way of annexation is bound to be limited, however. Property that could someday be annexed into the city consists of a small, six-acre parcel along the north side of Southeast May Valley Road near 148th Avenue Southeast.
Roberge said although housing construction was slowed by the recession, potential residents and developers remain interested in the city.
“There’s going to be growth,” he said. “We know that, we understand that.”
Reach Reporter Warren Kagarise at 392-6434, ext. 234, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment on this story at www.newcastle-news.com.
*This article contains corrected information.