Kent City Council committee approves par 3 property rezone

A Kent City Council committee on Monday approved rezoning the city
A Kent City Council committee on Monday approved rezoning the city's Riverbend par 3 golf course for the potential development of a hotel, apartments or some other mixed-use project.
— image credit: Kent Reporter, file photo

A Kent City Council committee voted 3-0 on Monday to approve rezoning the Riverbend Golf Complex par 3 property in an effort to sell the city property to a developer.

The measure goes to the seven-member council on Tuesday, Aug. 19 for a vote. The city's Land Use and Planning Board voted 7-0 last month to recommend the council rezone the 24-acre site along the Green River with views of Mount Rainier from open space to general commercial mixed use to allow a broad mix of uses. Any multifamily residential (apartments, condos, hotel) must include 5 percent commercial use.

In April, the council unanimously agreed to try to sell the course to a developer to help bail out the financially struggling golf complex, which also features an 18-hole course, driving range and merchandise shop.

Riverbend faces a $2.6 million debt, capital investments of at least $6 million and operating deficits of about $300,000 per year. City officials hope to sell the par 3 to cover the debt as well as the capital improvements needed on the 18-hole course. The debt is owed to an inter-fund loan, money that the city borrowed from its water and fleet funds to help pay off the bond for the golf complex.

"We're trying to find a way to save golf," Councilman Dennis Higgins said at the committee meeting. "The city of Sumner got out of (the golf business)  because they can't afford it. The only solution presented to the council is to sell the par 3. It makes me sick but I haven't heard of any other solution to deal with all of the problems we are dealing with."

Councilman Bill Boyce said a council decision 10 to 12 years ago to borrow money from other city funds with no plan to repay the debt led to today's problems. The council also needs a plan to solve the operating deficit and pay for course improvements.

"We've had a lot of council discussion about this and none of us want to sell it," Boyce said. "But we need to figure out a way to pay for it and not have it come out of the general fund.

"We need to move forward with rezoning and ask staff to continue to look at ways to make it work without selling."

City officials say they need to rezone the property in order to try to attract developers who might want to build on the property. City officials would sign off on any proposed development similar to what the city did with the Kent Station shopping center and the newly built The Platform Apartments downtown.

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