Mill Creek, Washington

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Mill Creek
Street in the Mill Creek Town Center
Street in the Mill Creek Town Center
Location of Mill Creek, Washington
Location of Mill Creek, Washington
Coordinates: 47°51′42″N 122°12′16″W / 47.86167°N 122.20444°W / 47.86167; -122.20444Coordinates: 47°51′42″N 122°12′16″W / 47.86167°N 122.20444°W / 47.86167; -122.20444
CountryUnited States
IncorporatedSeptember 30, 1983
 • TypeCouncil–manager
 • MayorPam Pruitt
 • ManagerBob Stowe
 • Total4.66 sq mi (12.06 km2)
 • Land4.64 sq mi (12.03 km2)
 • Water0.01 sq mi (0.04 km2)
377 ft (115 m)
 • Total18,244
 • Estimate 
 • Density4,485.79/sq mi (1,732.14/km2)
Time zoneUTC-8 (Pacific (PST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-7 (PDT)
ZIP codes
98012, 98082
Area code425
FIPS code53-45865
GNIS feature ID1534566[4]

Mill Creek is a city in Snohomish County, Washington, United States. It is located between the cities of Everett and Lynnwood, approximately 20 miles (32 km) northeast of Seattle. The city has a population of 18,244 as of the 2010 census, while more recent estimates have placed its population above 20,000 residents. Mill Creek is one of the wealthiest suburbs in the Seattle metropolitan area and was originally built as a planned community.

The city lies along State Route 527 and North Creek, a tributary of the Sammamish River, and extends from Interstate 5 in the west to State Route 9 in the east. Mill Creek was a planned community conceived in the 1970s and built around a country club and golf course, with other development occurring nearby. It was incorporated as a city in 1983 and underwent major population growth due to continued suburban development and annexation of nearby areas. The city's downtown area is centered around the Mill Creek Town Center, a mixed-use lifestyle center and retail complex that opened in 2004.



The Mill Creek area was originally settled in the early 20th century by various farming families, from whom several local placenames are now derived. After the construction of the Bothell–Everett Highway in 1913 as part of the Pacific Highway, two junctions at Murphy's Corner and Wintermute's Corner gained small stores and gas stations to serve visitors.[5] In 1931, Doctor Manch N. Garhart acquired 800 acres (320 ha) in the area and used it to grow Gravenstein apples and Bartlett pears while also raising cattle.[6][7] The Garhart property, named Lake Dell Farm for a small reservoir built by local families, was later sold in 1967 to real estate developers after the market for local lumber and fruits had declined.[8][9]

The Garhart property, along with several neighboring farms, were optioned by various real estate developers in the 1960s and 1970s as a potential master planned community due to its proximity to the recently completed Interstate 5.[10] It would be the first modern planned city in Washington state, following in the footsteps of earlier planned cities like Longview, built in 1918.[11] The community, named "Olympus", was planned to include 3,300 acres (1,300 ha) in its first phase with 1,300 acres (530 ha) for homes, an industrial park, a shopping center, and a golf course.[12] After a local recession in the early 1970s, the development project was sold in 1973 to Tokyu Land Development and designed by a subsidiary of the Obayashi Corporation named United Development.[13] The development was renamed "Mill Creek", beating out the Chinook Jargon word "Klahanie",[14] although a waterway of that name was not present in the area until the 2001 renaming of Smokehouse Creek.[15][16]

Mill Creek's master plan was submitted to the county council in January 1974.[13] A homeowners association was established in December 1974 with funding from United Development to manage the area's security patrol, street maintenance, and other tasks.[17][18] The initial plan included consist of 4,600 homes, with eventual plans to house 12,000 people, a 260-acre (110 ha) park, and an 18-hole golf course.[19] Construction began in early 1975 on the golf course, while the first homes were under construction by the following year.[20][21] The first set of homes were designed to resemble country residences, with large floorplans and prominent use of wood furnishings, and sold for an average of $65,000.[22][23] Tokyu Land Development later re-used these home designs for the domestic market in Japan, where they were sold under the "Mill Creek" brand in the 1990s.[24]

Incorporation and annexations[edit]

A majority of the first phase's 1,767 homes and condominiums were completed by early 1983, when a incorporation petition was submitted by residents after reaching the population threshold of 3,000 needed for cityhood.[18] At the time, the homeowners association and county government had already provided much of the area's infrastructure and maintenance requirements, but local residents resisted attempts to raise property tax assessments.[18] Mill Creek was officially incorporated as a city on September 30, 1983, ten days after a vote of residents passed, and encompassed 1.92 square miles (5.0 km2).[25][26] Mill Creek was the first new city to be incorporated in Snohomish County since Brier in 1965 and the newest in the state since Ocean Shores in 1970.[27]

In the years following incorporation, Mill Creek reduced its property tax rates and formed its own police department, library, postal address, and land-use board.[28] The city's telephone system was split between three long-distance calling areas by GTE until the state utilities and transportation commission approved a consolidated calling area for toll-free service.[29][30] Sid Hanson, the chairman of the incorporation committee, was elected as the city's first mayor and served a single term until declining to run for re-election in 1987.[31] The city government's offices moved four times by the end of the decade, between various leased buildings that all served as temporary city halls.[32] A separate post office serving the city was promised at the time of incorporation, but was not opened until 1994.[33]

The city attempted its first annexations in 1986, but an advisory vote of existing residents rejected one proposal and the city council deferred action on another.[34] Mill Creek approved its first annexation, a 88-acre (36 ha) parcel southeast of the main development, in July 1987, while the nearby city of Everett began its own annexations of areas to the north of Mill Creek.[35] In 1989, the city proposed a major annexation of 350 acres (140 ha), a 25 percent increase in size, to add undeveloped commercial parcels on the west side of the Bothell–Everett Highway.[36] The western annexation was initially opposed by the county government, but was approved alongside four other annexations after Mill Creek agreed to share costs for road improvements to handle additional traffic demand.[37][38]

Everett attempted to annex the entire Murphy's Corner area in the late 1980s, but was forced to split the neighborhood at 132nd Street with Mill Creek after a decision by the state court of appeals and additional arbitration by boundary review boards.[39][40] The Henry M. Jackson High School was opened in 1994 and is located on the Mill Creek side of Murphy's Corner, which was annexed the following year.[41] A private high school, Archbishop Murphy High School, was opened in 1999 on a 22-acre (8.9 ha) campus in northeastern Mill Creek.[42] The 553-acre (224 ha) Thomas Lake area in the northeastern corner of the city,[38] bordered to the north by 132nd Street and east by Seattle Hill Road, was annexed in 2005 and added 2,200 residents to the city's population.[43] The annexations of other developed subdivisions, lacking the original development's upscale image, created a divide between residents on the issue of further growth.[44] Residents in several potential annexation targets preferred to be left alone by Mill Creek, due to its "snobbish" reputation, which faded as new neighborhoods were absorbed into the city.[45]

21st century[edit]

In the late 1980s, Mill Creek drafted a comprehensive plan that would transform its newly-annexed commercial area into a mixed-use downtown area to support the growing city.[46] The 23-acre (9.3 ha) downtown development would include a large public park, shopping areas, recreational facilities, multi-use trails, and office buildings.[47] After difficulty in finding a suitable developer,[48] the Mill Creek Town Center began construction in 2001 and the first phase opened two years later.[15][49] The second phase was completed in 2007, with 26 retail buildings, a medical clinic, condominiums, and a downtown plaza.[50] The final phase of the original Mill Creek development, consisting of 33 condominiums, was completed in late 2003.[17]

The Bothell–Everett Highway (State Route 527) remained a two-lane rural highway through Mill Creek until the start of an expansion and improvement program in the 1990s.[51] It was widened to four lanes with a center turn lane, and also gained bicycle lanes, sidewalks, and new landscaping features.[52] The section through Mill Creek, from 164th Street to 132nd Street, was completed in 2006 and required the construction of retaining walls and detention ponds due to the limited space for the road.[53] The project also included new bus stops that were later replaced after the opening of the Swift Green Line bus rapid transit system in March 2019.[54]

The city government began planning for a second urban village, to be located in newly-annexed areas at the northeast edge of the city, in 2007.[55] The retail and residential development, named the East Gateway, would have been located on 52 acres (21 ha) along 132nd Street, and was originally slated to be anchored by a Wal-Mart until the company scrapped plans after protests from local residents.[56] The eastern half of the development began construction in 2012 and was completed over the following two years with 210 apartments, 104 townhouses, office space, and retail.[57][58] Development of the remaining western half was approved in 2019 and branded as "The Farm at Mill Creek", consisting of 350 apartments, retail space, workforce housing units, and office space.[59]


The city of Mill Creek has a total area of 4.69 square miles (12.15 km2) according to the U.S. Census Bureau.[60] The city limits of Mill Creek are generally defined to the west by North Creek, to the north by 132nd Street Southeast (part of State Route 96) and Everett, to the east by Seattle Hill Road and 35th Avenue Southeast, and to the south by 163rd Street Southeast and North Creek County Park.[61] The city is surrounded by a larger urban growth area that encompasses unincorporated land, including the communities of Martha Lake and Silver Firs, with an estimated population of 40,171 people in 2014.[62] The urban growth area extends west to Interstate 5, including an overlapping claim with Lynnwood and south to 196th Street Southeast at the north end of the Bothell claim.[63]

Several creeks flow through the city, including North Creek, Penny Creek, and Nickel Creek.[64] A minor stream known as Smokehouse Creek was renamed to Mill Creek in 2001, retroactively giving the city a geographic namesake.[16] The center of Mill Creek lies along State Route 527, between two protected wetlands along North Creek and Penny Creek.[citation needed] The original plat of Mill Creek, located east of State Route 527, consists of 21 neighborhood subdivisions that are named for various trees.[65]


Mill Creek is the headquarters of Advanced Microscopy Group. It formerly was home to Handheld Games and King of the Road Map Service. Among the largest employers in the city are several retailers, as well as The Everett Clinic and the Mill Creek Country Club.[66][67]

As of 2015, Mill Creek has an estimated workforce population of 10,227 people and an unemployment rate of 2.2 percent.[68] Approximately 3 percent of the city's workers have jobs located within city limits, with the majority commuting to employers in other cities, with an average commute time of 31 minutes.[68] Over 21 percent of workers commute to Seattle, while 16 percent travel to Everett, 8 percent travel to Bellevue, and 5 percent travel to Bothell.[69]


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 201720,83214.2%
U.S. Decennial Census[70]
2017 Estimate[3]

Mill Creek is the eighth largest city in Snohomish County, with an estimated population of 20,832 in 2017.[3] It is one of the most affluent suburbs of Seattle and has a median household income of $86,965 and a per capita income of $42,858, ranking 22nd of 281 areas within the state, just behind nearby Mukilteo.[68][71] Approximately 4.1 percent of families and 6.4 percent of the overall population were below the poverty line, including 14.9 percent of those under the age of 18 and 2.5 percent aged 65 or older.[68]

Educational levels within the city stand at 95% High School Graduate or higher (7352), and 47.7% Bachelor's degree or higher (3688).[citation needed]

The city's population has steadily grown from 3,549 at the time of its incorporation in 1983 to over 19,000 in 2016, due to several annexations.[72] From 1983 to 1990, it increased by 298 percent to 7,172 residents.[73]

Mill Creek was ranked 36th on a list of best places to live in by Money magazine in 2013, based on its quality of life.[74]

2010 census[edit]

As of the 2010 census, there were 18,244 people, 7,551 households, and 4,921 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,906.6 inhabitants per square mile (1,508.3/km2). There were 7,923 housing units at an average density of 1,696.6 per square mile (655.1/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 74.2% White, 2.2% African American, 0.5% Native American, 16.7% Asian, 0.4% Pacific Islander, 1.6% from other races, and 4.4% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.6% of the population.[2]

There were 7,551 households of which 31.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.7% were married couples living together, 8.2% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.2% had a male householder with no wife present, and 34.8% were non-families. 27.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.42 and the average family size was 2.99.[2]

The median age in the city was 38.9 years. 23.3% of residents were under the age of 18; 8.3% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 27.4% were from 25 to 44; 28.6% were from 45 to 64; and 12.5% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.6% male and 51.4% female.[2]

2000 census[edit]

As of the 2000 census, there were 11,525 people, 4,631 households, and 3,250 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,231.3 people per square mile (1,246.5/km²). There were 4,769 housing units at an average density of 1,337.1 per square mile (515.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 81.49% White, 1.41% African American, 0.43% Native American, 12.64% Asian, 0.25% Pacific Islander, 1.12% from other races, and 2.65% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.25% of the population.[75]

There were 4,631 households out of which 32.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 61.8% were married couples living together, 5.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.8% were non-families. 24.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.48 and the average family size was 2.98.[75]

In the city, the age distribution of the population shows 24.3% under the age of 18, 8.1% from 18 to 24, 28.7% from 25 to 44, 27.1% from 45 to 64, and 11.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females, there were 93.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.6 males.[75]

The median income for a household in the city was $69,702, and the median income for a family was $87,263. Males had a median income of $59,070 versus $39,138 for females. The per capita income for the city was $36,234. About 3.0% of families and 3.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.2% of those under age 18 and 3.6% of those age 65 or over.[75]

Government and politics[edit]

The City of Mill Creek is a non-charter code city with a council–manager government.[76] The city council is composed of seven members elected in non-partisan, at-large elections to four-year terms. The councilmembers elect a ceremonial mayor and mayor pro tem from its members and appoint a city manager to execute its legislative policies.[77] The current mayor is councilwoman Pam Pruitt, while the interim city manager is Bob Stowe, appointed in October 2018 to fill a vacancy in the position.[78] The city government has approximately 65 employees.[79]

The city's public library was constructed in 1987 and expanded several times by Sno-Isle Libraries, its operator.[80] Due to overcrowding at the current building, the city government considered a proposal to build a new library atop a Target store in the East Gateway urban village, but the plan fell through.[81][82]

Parks and recreation[edit]

Mill Creek contains several neighborhood and community parks and recreational facilities, including Nickel Creek Park, Heron Park, Highland Park, Cougar Park, and the Mill Creek Sports Park. There is also the private golf course around which the original community was built, as well as a nature preserve through which Penny Creek flows. County parks located near the city include McCollum Park and North Creek Park.

In addition to parks, the city has various public and private walking and cycling trails. The major public trail is the North Creek Trail which runs from McCollum Park south to 164th Street SE and approximately parallels North Creek.

The city's golf course is 300 yards (270 m) short of the required length to host a professional men's tournament.[83] The golf course and country club was originally owned by the development company and sold in 2001 to another company before being acquired by the country club members for $5.2 million in 2007.[84]

Mill Creek also has a private indoor sports arena that opened in 2017, encompassing 98,500 square feet (9,150 m2) with three soccer fields, a bowling alley, and a laser tag arena.[85]



Mill Creek hosts a twice-annual community garage sale in May and October that was permitted by the covenants of the original development.[65] The event, one of the largest of its kind in the county, brings an influx of outside traffic and is also coordinated with charity donations.[65][86] The city's chamber of commerce has an annual festival in July, while the town center has weekly concerts during the summertime. The city also hosts annual parades on Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Mill Creek's farmers market runs from June to August and is located in the city hall parking lot.[87]

Notable people[edit]


Public education in Mill Creek is provided by the Everett School District, which serves the adjacent city of Everett and several unincorporated neighborhoods. The school district covers 52 square miles (130 km2) and has a total enrollment of more than 20,200 students.[101][102] Mill Creek and its surrounding urban growth area is home to seven of the school district's 32 schools: Henry M. Jackson High School, Heatherwood Middle School, Gateway Middle School, and four elementary schools.[102] The area also has several private schools, including Archbishop Murphy High School and Cedar Park Christian School.[103][104]



Mill Creek lies east of Interstate 5, which is the main north–south freeway through the Seattle metropolitan area and continues to Downtown Seattle and Everett. The city is bisected by State Route 527, the Bothell–Everett Highway, from north to south. The two highways are connected by a pair of east–west streets, 164th Street and 128th Street (State Route 96).[105]

The city's public transportation is provided by Community Transit, which also serves most of the county, and consists of several local and commuter bus routes. The agency's second bus rapid transit route, the Swift Green Line, travels along State Route 527 and has several stops in Mill Creek, connecting the city to Paine Field and Bothell. Other local routes connect Mill Creek to Everett, Lynnwood, Silver Firs, and Snohomish.[106] During rush hours, two commuter routes connect the State Route 527 and 132nd Street corridors to Downtown Seattle. The Ash Way Park and Ride is located west of the Mill Creek Town Center and has additional connections to Community Transit and Sound Transit Express routes.[106]

A private airfield, Martha Lake Airport, operated west of modern-day Mill Creek from 1953 to 1998. It has since been converted into a county park, after the owners rejected a proposal to develop it into a housing subdivision.[107][108]


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