Developers of the planned Marquee on Meeker apartment complex – that will replace the Riverbend par 3 golf course – are going after millennials to move to Kent.
The Kent City Council heard from the developer and architect of the mixed-use project prior to its controversial 5-2 vote on May 2 to sell the city-owned land to Auburn-based FNW Inc./Landmark Development Group for $10.5 million.
“We are going through a major urban transformation,” said architect Charles Strazzara, of Seattle-based Studio Meng Strazzara. “It’s the move to the core. The core of the city of Seattle and the core of the city of Kent. It’s going to happen. It’s a lifestyle choice. The millennials want to live, dine and shop all within the same environment.”
Millennials are people born after 1980 and before 2000. Landmark Development plans to target those in their 20s and 30s to rent its high-end, urban-style apartments. The project will have about 500 units as well as 12,00 square feet of retail and restaurant space. Construction could start as soon as July.
“As architects we create where people want to live,” Strazzara said. “We have a groundscape with restaurants and services and a coffee shop that helps a district grow. We see it happening in Edmonds, Bothell. The auto-oriented retail buildings where people live in the hills and drive down, that’s changing.”
The council approved trying to sell the 24 acres in 2014 to help eliminate the city’s enterprise golf fund debt of nearly $3 million and allow for about $6 million in capital improvements to the 18-hole course across West Meeker Street from the par 3 as a way to draw more players to boost revenue. The Riverbend Golf Complex operates at a deficit of about $300,000 per year.
Ben Wolters, city economic and community development director, described the project to the council.
“It will have two podium construction buildings much like the two (apartment) buildings we have in our downtown,” Wolters said. “One (The Platform) has commercial on the bottom. The other (Dwell at Kent Station) is similar to the construction type.”
Wolters expects renters will have an option they never had before in Kent.
“It calls for high quality finish unlike any other apartment community, frankly in South King County,” Wolters said.
Two, five-story buildings will feature 124 units each with structured parking below for 124 vehicles. Around the perimeter, the project will feature 21 walk-up buildings.
Strazzara, who also designed The Platform next to Town Square Plaza, describes Marquee on Meeker as a high-end project.
“That was appropriate at the time,” Strazzara said about The Platform. “This is the next step up. We have elevated the game. We want it to be urban with the highest quality of materials (exterior and interior).”
The units will feature hardwood flooring in all rooms except bedrooms which will have high-end carpet; solid surface counters in kitchens and bathrooms; stainless steel appliances; and high quality ceiling fans.
The developers asked for a property tax waiver from the city – that the council plans to grant – in order to use better materials and offer more amenities.
“We took the savings from that and put in into the project with the best materials,” said John McKenna, CEO of Landmark Development.
Under the eight-year waiver, no property taxes would be paid by Landmark on the value of the apartment complex. The developer would still pay taxes on the land and the value of the commercial part of the project. Seattle developer Tarragon used the property tax break to build the Dwell at Kent Station Apartments, which will save the company about $1.7 million over eight years with no taxes on the building paid to the city, schools, regional fire authority and other taxing districts, according to city staff.
A large part of the Marquee on Meeker project includes public access, something city officials emphasized with the removal of the par 3 golf course.
A plaza will be open to the public and framed by restaurants. A pathway will connect West Meeker Street and the Green River Trail that borders the south end of the property.
To accommodate the public, parallel parking will be installed along both sides of West Meeker Street. The complex also will have public parking lots and an overflow lot.
“We need the public because we are bringing in 12,000 square feet of retail,” Strazzara said. “Without the public this doesn’t succeed.”
Developers plan to put in a 200-foot open space buffer between the apartments and the Green River Trail, including saving as many large trees as possible that line the south end of the par 3 golf course.
City staff and consultants are studying ways to get more drivers to use State Route 516 to travel eastbound and westbound rather than West Meeker Street. Traffic studies show the state highway could handle more traffic with improvements to a couple of intersections. There are no plans by the city to replace the two-lane Meeker Street bridge over the Green River that connects the road to State Route 516, another reason to get traffic away from Meeker Street.