An example of the type of hotel city leaders would like to see developed north of Willis Street and east of Highway 167. Courtesy Graphic, City of Kent

Kent seeks hotel developer for Naden properties

Kent leaders are getting ready to market another piece of city property – this time in efforts to attract a new hotel.

City staff and the City Council expect to put out a request for information to developers who want to build a hotel on about 2 acres at what’s known as the Naden properties, just north of Willis Street, east of Highway 167 and south of West Meeker Street.

The city started to purchase property along Naden Avenue in 2006 with plans to build an aquatic center. But the council later abandoned that proposal because of the recession and high costs of a new pool and now is working with the YMCA to build a facility on the East Hill.

“I feel really good where we are in the market right now for attracting hotel interests,” said Kurt Hanson, city deputy director of economic and community development, in a Sept. 5 report at a council workshop.

Marriott and Hilton are among the hotels whose acquisition staff have shown an interest in the property, Hanson said.

An advisory committee of city staff, council members and local business people will set criteria for the type of hotel development. Hanson expects to issue the request for information from developers by October.

“If a proposal comes in and knocks it out of the park, the committee could select them and go into negotiations with them,” Hanson said.

There also could be three or four proposals the committee might want to consider. If no proposal looks promising, the committee could decide to wait on a decision.

The council earlier this year sold the Riverbend Golf Complex par 3 property to a developer who will replace the course with about 500 apartments as part of a mixed-use project to include restaurants. Construction is expected to start next spring on Marquee on Meeker with the first apartments ready in 2019.

The city’s Naden properties include about 7.7 acres, but the idea is for about 2 acres on the south end to be used for a hotel. The rest of the property could be for mixed use, possibly apartments, offices and retail.

Kent received clearance from the state Department of Transportation this spring to get access from Willis Street to the property from State Route 516. That will allow right turns in and out of the property.

“That was a huge hurdle,” Hanson said.

City staff also will need to figure out how to move stormwater from a potential new hotel and other nearby new developments through the drainage system, looking at needs for pipes, inlets, ditches, etc.

“That’s going to be a big topic going forward because of all of the development happening,” Hanson said.

A Kirkland developer plans to build a 165-unit, seven-story apartment complex at West Meeker Street and Madison Avenue, just north of the Naden properties.

Because the Interurban Trail sits along the west side of the Naden properties, city staff hopes to work with a developer to improve the trail and make it a gateway to the area.

The city bought the Naden land for $8 million and still owes $3.6 million on bonds. The city also paid $500,000 for additional nearby properties. Proceeds from a sale of the property could be used to pay off the bond or used to pay for other city projects. City Finance Director Aaron BeMiller has recommended that the council use the proceeds to pay off the bonds.

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