Developers of the Ethos Community Apartments along West Meeker Street in Kent will save a estimated $3.1 million in property taxes over eight years thanks to a property tax waiver approved by the City Council.
The council approved Nov. 17 a multifamily housing property tax exemption agreement for phase 2 of the 492-unit complex on the site of the city’s former par 3 golf course, 2200 W. Meeker St.
“This is an agreement we settled on in 2017, so we are just carrying forth what we said we were going to do,” Councilmember Brenda Fincher said during a discussion of the tax exemption at the council’s Nov. 10 Committee of the Whole meeting. “This is not something we are adding on to the agreement.”
The council agreed in 2017 to give the tax break for what was then known as the Marquee on Meeker project as part of a deal to sell the city-owned Riverbend Golf Complex par 3 property to Auburn-based FNW, Inc./Landmark Development Group for $10.5 million. City staff told the council it would get a upscale development with more amenities because of the tax savings given to the developer.
Councilmember Bill Boyce has toured the completed first phase of the project that is across from the Riverbend Golf Complex’s 18-hole course.
“I encourage council members to walk around there and visit,” Boyce said. “This is first class, there is no shortcuts. I have talked to the tenants, it is way over the top. It is really good for a gateway to Kent.”
The complex has higher standards on the inside and exterior of units, including stainless steel appliances and granite countertops inside the units.
Prices at the apartments are $1,505 a month for a studio unit, $1,685 for a one bedroom, $1,995 for a two bedroom and $2,345 for a three-bedroom unit, according to the Ethos website.
City Attorney Pat Fitzpatrick told the council it approved the property tax exemption for phase 1 of the project in 2017 and now the developer is back to get the exemption for building phase 2.
In addition to the apartments, the complex also will include 12,000 square feet of retail space. A total of 210 units remain to be built. The developer will have up to three years to finish phase 2.
“We estimated tax savings at approximately $390,000 per year for eight years totaling $3.1 million,” City planner Jason Garnham told the council. “The city keeps about 12% (of the property tax), so we will lose about $48,000 per year.”
The developers still pay taxes on the land value but not on the building value, so no additional taxes are paid to the city, school district, the Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority, King County and other taxing districts.
Councilmember Marli Larimer pointed out that the city received no property tax revenue when the land was a golf course but now will bring in revenue from taxes on the land value.
Garnham said the $120 million development will benefit the Meeker corridor and downtown. The developer has paid for improvements along Meeker Street, will provide public facilities on the property, two paved pathways to the Green River through the site and provide public parking for Green River Trail access.
“It’s intended to serve as a gateway to downtown and to attract other projects in the area, improving walkability of the area, increasing transit use and most importantly bringing at least 492 new residents to downtown Kent to support businesses,” Garnham said.
Council President Toni Troutner asked Garnham if people were renting the units.
“Phase 1 has 282 units, I spoke to the developer a couple of weeks ago and I don’t remember the exact number but he said it is going as well as expected,” Garnham said. “They are meeting certain targets, a requirement on their end to obtain financing for construction of the second phase, so the fact they are moving forward is a good sign things are going as they intended.”