Crews continue to clear the way for development at Riverbend’s former par 3 golf course this week along West Meeker Street. MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter

Crews continue to clear the way for development at Riverbend’s former par 3 golf course this week along West Meeker Street. MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter

Kent officially closes Riverbend par 3 course

Work begins on 500-unit apartment complex

The city of Kent closed its Riverbend par 3 golf course earlier this month to make way for a 500-unit apartment complex known as the Marquee on Meeker project.

The City Council voted 5-2 last May to sell the property for $10.5 million to Auburn-based FNW, Inc./Landmark Development Group for the mixed-use project that also plans to include businesses, such as restaurants.

The council approved trying to sell the par 3 property in 2014 to help eliminate the city’s enterprise golf fund debt of nearly $4 million and allow for about $6 million in capital improvements to the rest of the Riverbend Golf Complex, which includes an 18-hole course across the street from the par 3, a driving range and a pro shop.

“With the first phase of proceeds, Riverbend will be paying off a portion of its interfund loan, establishing a new cash reserve, purchasing maintenance equipment, purchasing a new range ball machine, expanding the driving range, completing on-course restroom and other site improvements and expanding the pro-shop space on the 18-hole side of the course,” said Parks Director Julie Parascondola in an email Tuesday.

The projects are designed to help with the long-term success of the 18-hole course under the city’s Riverbend’s Sustainable Business Plan.

Mayor Dana Ralph officially signed closing documents on March 29 for the property sale.

With the closure of the par 3 course on April 2, the 18-hole golf course has started a “Growing the Game” campaign, Parascondola said. Several of the key offerings of the campaign are targeted toward juniors, beginners and seniors specifically designed to offset the impact of the par 3 closure.

The Par 3 Tuesday morning Senior Men’s League has successfully moved over to the 18-hole golf course and is playing from the “Tee It Forward” or purple tees (which were established in 2015) and began playing the larger course on April 2 at a senior, reduced rate, Parascondola said.

“Our hope is that through marketing the Tuesday morning Senior Special we can also help grow the Senior Men’s League,” Parascondola said. “After three weeks of play the comments from the Senior Men’s League are 100 percent positive.”

On Sunday afternoons after 3, juniors can play for free with a paying adult.

Beginning May 1, the 18-hole course will offer “Growing the Game” tee times starting at 6 p.m., specifically designed for beginners, juniors, seniors or anyone that wants to have fun learning how to play golf.

City officials also are looking for a new restaurant to operate at the Riverbend complex. City staff plans to post a request for proposal by April 18 to find anyone interested in running a restaurant. The last few restaurants at Riverbend fail to survive, including the Scotch and Vine that closed last April.

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