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Tarragon might add apartment complex to Kent Station

Seattle developer Tarragon might build a four-story apartment complex at Kent Station.

Tarragon, which opened the Kent Station shopping center in 2005, revealed in an April 10 letter to the Kent City Council's Economic and Community Development Committee its potential plans.

"We have recently been reviewing a parcel of land as part of our Kent Station development for development of a 150-plus unit wood frame four-story apartment project over a one-story structured concrete podium parking garage," wrote Kristen Lund, Tarragon development manager, in the letter. "The location for the apartments is excellent as it has exceptional proximity to the Sounder commuter rail as well as the convenience of being part of Kent Station, and walkable to downtown amenities, including the library."

The proposed site sits along Fourth Avenue North across from the Maleng Regional Justice Center. The empty property, on the west side of Kent Station, is used for overflow parking.

Lund wrote the letter for Tarragon as part of the committee's public hearing about whether to extend a property tax exemption to developers of multifamily projects in the downtown area.

Lund favors the property tax exemption for an additional five years from June 2014 because of the financial challenges to build a large apartment complex. She wrote the lower rental rates in Kent than Seattle, rising construction costs and high park and school impact fees for multifamily projects makes the development difficult financially.

Phone messages over several days to Lund for further comment about the proposed apartments and a possible timeline of when the company might go forward with the project were not returned.

The committee voted 3-0 to approve the property tax waiver. The ordinance goes to the full seven-member council on May 6 for approval.

Ben Wolters, city economic and community development director, told the committee that Tarragon has done some preliminary design work, but increased construction costs are a tough challenge. He added the developer also is keeping an eye on The Platform apartments that will open later this summer across the street from Kent Station at Fourth Avenue North and West Smith Street.

"Construction costs are beginning to impact the viability of projects," Wolters said. "That relates back to rental rates, how much you believe you can get. I think Tarragon is still waiting to see The Platform open up and start to see what the actual rental rates will be of units that get leased. That leasing process will begin this summer."

Wolters said the rising apartment rental rates in Seattle and Bellevue could benefit Kent.

"They're (in Seattle and Bellevue) starting to price some elements of the market out of the market and that's creating the opportunity for us for urban style living," Wolters said.

The construction of 150 to 200 residential units was part of the planned unit development for Kent Station agreed upon between Tarragon and the city, said Fred Satterstrom, city planning services director. Tarragon has finished the retail phases but has yet to build any residential housing at Kent Station.

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