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Eight buyers, developers emerge for Kenmore Village sites
Every city needs a vibrant downtown. Kenmore’s downtown is in the process of a facelift that began with the opening of the new Kenmore City Hall in 2010, new King County Library and fire station in 2011.
City of Kenmore officials are now focusing on the private sector with the redevelopment of Kenmore Village at N.E. 181st Street and 68th Ave. N.E.
The Kenmore City Council is in the process of selecting a buyer for the two main city-owned Kenmore Village properties, and took another step forward during Monday’s council meeting.
“This is intended to take the property off our books,” said Kenmore City Manager Rob Karlinsey. “But we also want to raise the bar and bring in quality development.”
The redevelopment of the upper and lower sites will accompany an agreement with Kenmore Camera to upgrade the facade of the building that used to house the Grocery Outlet. Kenmore Camera will continue to be the anchor store for the area.
The upper lot, which is the site of the former King County Park and Ride and slated for residential development, was listed by brokerage firm Jones Lang LaSalle, while the lower lots, or shopping center and mixed-use development, is being handled by Colliers International.
“Based on the goals for the properties and the principles outlined in the position statement, four potential buyers for each of the properties are recommended to move forward in the process,” city documents state.
The council wants Kenmore Village to be “a walkable place with a public square where Kenmore-area residents and workers can meet their daily needs and see one another face-to-face.”
City staff wants to select the buyer by late April or early May this year. Karlinsey said that because negotiations are still underway, the city cannot disclose how much each potential buyer has offered but that he was surprised at how many buyers for each property came forward. The quality of the offers were also surprising.
“The brokers were surprised,” said Karlinsey. “They said we got the cream-of-the-cream with a lot of financial wherewithall.”
The city originally received seven bids for the upper site and eight for the lower site.
“We asked them why they wanted to invest here,” said Karlinsey. “All of them admitted that it was a difficult site.”
The land is not directly on Bothell Highway but a block to the north, missing an opportunity for visibility. But that did not stop the companies from being interested in the projects.
“All of them felt that there was an investment trend on this end of the lake,” said Karlinsey. “Jobs were the biggest thing. There is a lot of hiring in the north end of King County, the tolling trends and amenities were all big factors, too.”
Some of those amenities include parks, the Burke-Gilman Trail, access to Lake Washington and the quality of the Northshore School District.
The goal for the lower site is the same for each potential developer, to build retail, office and possible medical uses. The project must include “town green” with trees and green space included. The four potential buyers include the Benaroya Company, Tourmaline Capital, KG Investment Management and Teutsch Partners, LLC.
The Benaroya Company, based in Bellevue, is responsible for building the Group Health Medical Center in Puyallup, the redevelopment of the mixed-use Safeway project in lower Queen Anne and the LA Fitness in Kent. Tourmaline Capital developed the Triangle Mall in Longview, US Bank Plaza in Sacramento, Calif., the Aurora Center in Fairbanks, Ala. and the Freemont Hub in Freemont, Calif. The Teutsch Partners built the Pavilion United General Hospital in Sedro Wooley, the Bellevue Overlake Clinic, the Covington Medical Office Building and the mixed-use Wedgewood Retail Center. KG Investment Management developed the Ballard Blocks, which includes Trader Joes and LA Fitness; part of Auto Row in Bellevue, which is currently under construction; and Bellevue Midlakes that will begin construction this summer.
None of the bids come with a set date for construction, as most will have to line up retail prior to breaking ground.
“They all want to move as fast as possible,” said Karlinsey. “But these are more tenant driven.”
The upper lot developers have some differing ideas on what should be built but all agree they want to start building by 2014.
Main Street Properties, which is already building two apartment buildings in Bothell, is proposing approximately 160 apartment units on the upper lot “in a wrap product with tuck under and surface parking that would not be visible from the street.” The company prefaces their proposal by stating that the “project would be coming on line when other projects, including apartments near UW Bothell, would be wrapping up.”
Lake Union Properties is proposing the same number of apartments, with a specified 240 parking stalls. Polygon Homes is proposing less units, 80-95, but they would be “for sale” and not rentals. The Brownstone-style brick townhouses would also meet a 25 percent affordability requirement.
The last of the potential developers is Intracorp, proposing 90-120 attached two to four bedroom townhouses. The units would “initially be for rent but positioned as future for-sale units.”
Karlinsey emphasized that the Kenmore Village projects should be viewed as a catalyst for downtown redevelopment and not the end.
The building that houses the United States Post Office and other buildings in the area could follow suit with redevelopment plans.
The council also received good news during the meeting that can only help with redevelopment. The city boasted that it was under budget for 2012.
“It was better than forecasted and our reserves are solid,” said Karlinsey.