After a potential sale to a developer fell through, the Kent School District took the old Panther Lake Elementary School property off the market.
”The developer that was studying the costs and value of purchasing the property stepped away from the project after they determined it was not going to be financially viable to proceed,” said district spokesman Chris Loftis in an email. “Since then, we have decided to take the property off the market and preserve our options and flexibility for its future use.”
Bellevue developer SE Grainger Development Group submitted a permit application to the city of Kent in mid-January to build a shopping center with multiple retail and fast food restaurant uses and possibly self storage, according to city documents. The developer proposed to demolish the school, parking lot and ball fields for the new project at 20831 108th Ave. SE, on the East Hill.
The school closed in 2009 when the district opened a new Panther Lake Elementary School at 10200 SE 216th St. School district officials had hoped to sell the property to help pay for other capital projects.
“At this time, the district has needs in addressing future growth and capacity and all district property will be examined as the district determines the best course of action to address changes in McCleary and implementation of the recent legislative changes to class size at all levels,” said Loftis, who didn’t respond to what specific steps the district might take with the Panther Lake property.
At least one other group has shown an interest in the old school.
The Center of Faith Church, of Kent, submitted a pre-application in June to the city proposing to locate a church in the existing school buildings, but they have not submitted any permits, said city senior planner Erin George in an email.
“We have had no direct contact from the church group, so we do not have information on their desire or intent,” Loftis said.
A church spokesman didn’t return a call to the Kent Reporter about plans to move to the school property. The church’s location is 25715 102nd Place SE.
“Pre-applications are often used as a feasibility tool, sometimes before property transactions have occurred,” George said.
School district officials had hoped the sale to the Bellevue developer would close this summer. A representative for the developer did not return emails or voicemails from the Kent Reporter for more information about the proposal submitted to the city.
Based on city documents, the developer planned four fast food drive-through restaurants and a drug store or possibly a second option of a three-story self storage facility.
The property has a long history with school districts. Isaac Parmenter owned the property in 1906 when he deeded an acre of it to the Panther Lake School District, which later merged with the Kent School District. A new school was built in 1946 and the 10 acres served as the site of the elementary school until 2009.
A condition of the deed was that the land was only to be used for a school. When the old school building was vacated, district officials negotiated with the 44 identified heirs of Isaac Parmenter to pay them a total of $445,000 so the district could sell the property. The agreement also included naming the gym at Panther Lake Elementary School the Isaac and Nellie Parmenter Gymnasium.