Kent's first cottage housing development closer to reality

Cottage houses similar to this one are planned for the Blueberry Cottages development on the East Hill of Kent. - COURTESY PHOTO
Cottage houses similar to this one are planned for the Blueberry Cottages development on the East Hill of Kent.
— image credit: COURTESY PHOTO

With the economy starting to pick up, the first cottage-housing development in Kent keeps moving closer to reality.

In fact, Kent-based developer W.E. Ruth Real Estate Inc., is ready to take reservations and deposits from people interested in one of the 30 housing units to be built on 4 acres on the East Hill at the northwest corner of Southeast 240th Street and 116th Avenue Southeast.

"We're very close to reality now," said J.B. Ruth, project manager. "Houses probably will be constructed maybe this time next year. It will probably take summertime to do the work on the plat and have the construction drawings approved by the city."

Cottage-style housing developments feature small, detached single-family homes clustered around a common open space with garages and parking located away from the homes.

The two-and-three bedroom units will range up to 1,500 square feet. Cottages will sit in clusters of five or six homes with garages a short walk away in a detached building. Ruth said he doesn't have any specific prices yet until bids from builders come in. Each cottage owner will have to pay homeowner's dues for a company to maintain the common areas.

"They are going to be a high-quality home and very detailed," Ruth said. "They are going to be an asset to the city of Kent."

Most cottages will feature a covered front porch as well as a small yard or garden area. Ruth said they plan to preserve as many trees as possible, including a grove of about a dozen old growth cedar and Douglas Fir trees. Other large trees will serve as a natural border between the cottage homes and properties to the west and north as well as along 116th Avenue Southeast.

The development is known as Blueberry Cottages after the blueberry bushes on the property. Access to the property will be from 116th Avenue Southeast.

The City Council approved cottage housing in 2008 under a demonstration ordinance in an effort to give buyers more options and get away from the cookie-cutter style of homes that dominate many developments.

"Being this is a high visibility project for the city being a pilot program for Kent as the first cottage housing project, we've had a tremendous amount of interest in it," said Ruth, who is in the process of interviewing builders and lenders to get the project going.

Ruth Real Estate hired Whidbey Island-based Ross Chapin Architects to design the project. Chapin has designed cottage housing projects in the Pacific Northwest and nationally. Chapin refers to the communities as pocket neighborhoods.

"We've got the best there is for design work," Ruth said.

Ruth is the third generation to work at Ruth Real Estate. His grandfather, Walter Earnest (W.E.) Ruth started the business in 1943 on East Meeker Street downtown. He died in 1959. The business moved in the mid-1950s to the corner of Southeast 192nd Street and 108th Avenue Southeast, where Bill Ruth, the father of J.B., built a new office in 1960. The Ruth's built their current office in 2005 at 19400 108th Ave. S.E.

"We're celebrating 70 years this year on this corner," Ruth said.

Just two years ago the office became part of Kent with the Panther Lake annexation after many years in unincorporated Renton.

Bill Ruth serves as president of the company, a job J.B. Ruth eventually will take over.

Bill Ruth also is owner of the Independent Softball Association that features more than 18,000 teams across the nation and Senior Softball-USA for players older than 40. He's the brother of Jerry "The King" Ruth, the legendary drag racer from Kent.

There is a statue of three boys outside the entrance to the real estate office that represents the three brothers. John Ruth, the middle brother, died in 2008. He owned Motor Oil Supply in Kent, a company he started in 1979.

The house the three brothers grew up in used to sit on the corner and now sits across the street from the office.

"I'll be the third generation of ownership here," J.B. Ruth said. "We're still here and serving the community and we're growing."

Other projects for Ruth Real Estate include a 73-lot subdivision in Ravensdale and a 15-lot subdivision by Lake Sawyer.

"We are seeing a multitude of offers on properties," said Ruth who recently sold a home in Fairwood that had six offers. "There's a lot of business in Kent, Renton right now," Ruth said.

That includes the planned Blueberry Cottages. The city hearing examiner last fall approved the preliminary plat for the project.

"We think the timing right now is right for this," Ruth said. "Financing is good for the single-family homeowners, the perspective buyers. Interest rates are good. The money is there."

To reserve a lot at Blueberry Cottages, contact J.B. Ruth at 253-852-4682 or email

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