Construction isn’t scheduled to start in downtown Kent until at least the end of 2012 on a proposed five-story, mixed-use development with as many as 164 apartments.
Even though the Seattle developer demolished the half-built parking garage in October to make room for the new apartment complex and 3,700-square feet of retail space at the corner of West Smith Street and Fourth Avenue, construction remains at least a year away. The development is known as the city center project.
“Our goal is to start construction within a year,” said Brad Reisinger, project manager for Goodman Real Estate, Inc., in a phone interview last week. “By next year (at this time), hopefully, we would have broken ground.”
Reisinger wanted to emphasize that the project hasn’t stalled, unlike the previous developer who ran out of money in 2007 after constructing a half-built parking garage as part of a proposed hotel, condominiums and retail space development.
“We knocked down the garage a year ahead of when of when we would typically do that,” Reisinger said. “Typically, we would not have done the demolition until we were ready to start building. But this deal was different because it was a priority of the city to get rid of an eyesore and knock down the garage.”
The Kent City Council in September approved a lease/option agreement for the city-owned property with Goodman Real Estate.
The two-year lease provides Goodman an option to purchase the city center property at any time during the term of the lease. For consideration of the lease, Goodman agreed to demolish the existing parking structure and pay $100,000 to the city.
According to city officials, upon exercising its option to purchase, Goodman will pay the city an additional $802,000 in two installments; the first being approximately $540,000 at closing and the balance, which is contingent upon project success, would be paid at a point after the project is built and fully leased.
Ben Wolter, city economic and community development director, said city officials plan to have a preliminary permit meeting with Goodman in the first quarter of this year.
“New construction can typically take 90 days to 120 days to permit but it could go slower or faster,” Wolters said. “We’re ready to move the (building) permit expeditiously.”
Wolters said the permit for the project must go through the city’s downtown design review process before it is approved by city staff.
“We know so much about the project, we don’t anticipate any problems if the plans conform to what they have proposed so far,” Wolters said.
Reisinger said Goodman has a preliminary concept but now is developing conceptual plans with details about the layout and how individual apartment units will look.
Goodman, and its architect Studio Meng Strazzara of Seattle, plan to build much of the retail space near the corner of West Smith Street and Fourth Avenue and extend the space along Smith Street east from Fourth Avenue. The retail will feature small, boutique-like shops.
“It is a major corner,” Reisinger said.
The developer plans to build one-and two-bedroom apartments to be rented at an affordable price.
“They will be affordable to the mass population,” Reisinger said. “They will not be what we call luxury.”
Goodman likes the prospect of the Kent site to attract downtown renters.
“You’ve got Kent Station, the ShoWare Center, city and county offices,” Reisinger said. “I think it’s a great site. Sound Transit is adjacent. I think it has a lot of potential.”
Reisinger added he expects people to start looking for new places to live when costs go up elsewhere in the Seattle area.
“People will be looking at areas like Kent when Seattle and Bellevue get too expensive,” he said. “People are looking at outlying areas like Kent.”
Goodman has developed other projects between Seattle and Lynnwood and built the Signature Pointe Apartments in 1989 in Kent along the Green River.
“This is our first more urban project in Kent,” Reisinger said. “People want to live downtown now and what it offers. There is less concern with size and space. People are more interested in convenience to transit, retail, entertainment or work.”
Goodman Real Estate was selected as the developer of the site following a competitive process and review by a city panel that included Mayor Suzette Cooke, City Council members, a representative of the Kent Downtown Partnership and city staff.