Project Springboard: Half-completed downtown Kent parking garage may get a new lease on life

City officials are optimistic that a new lender will jump-start interest in the half-completed parking garage project located next to Town Square Park in Kent's downtown core.

The half-completed garage

The half-completed garage

City officials are optimistic that a new lender will jump-start interest in the half-completed parking garage project located next to Town Square Park in Kent’s downtown core.

According to Economic Development Manager Kurt Hanson, the players have changed since the beginning of the year because Horizon Bank, the original lender on the project, was taken over by Washington Federal Savings on Jan. 8, bringing new blood to the more than 5-year-old development known as Project Springboard.

“We’re excited to see there’s renewed interest in the project,” Hanson said Tuesday. “We really need a viable, vibrant development to happen there.”

Hanson said the city received an offer on the project late last year from a local interested party, who is choosing to remain anonymous, but that rumors of a Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation visit to Horizon Bank led to the offer expiring without a response.

“We kind of missed an opportunity there,” Hanson said.

According to Hanson, however, the investor is still interested in purchasing the land, located at the corner of Fourth Avenue North and West Smith St.

Known as “Project Springboard,” the original project called for not only a parking garage (Phase 1) but 50 hotel rooms, 50 condos and 50 units of senior housing, as well as a water park.

The land underneath the garage was assembled in part by the city about five years ago. In exchange for helping to put together the deals, the city was to receive 70 parking stalls in the garage for public use.

The original developer planned to build the garage and on the land next to it build a housing development.

“Originally it wasn’t just the garage,” Hanson said.

The project ground to a halt in 2007, however, and has been locked in the courts with more than 30 liens filed against the project by subcontractors seeking payment for their work. Hanson said the companies have since settled out of court.

According to Hanson, the city built Town Square Plaza on its portion of the block, which was designed to be the “50-yard line” of downtown, connecting the new development of Kent Station to the downtown core.

Since Washington Federal took over for Horizon, Hanson said the bank has been reviewing the properties and assets it assumed, including the garage and land in Kent and he said he is optimistic that the new players will lead to new results.

“I have full faith they are doing their piece,” he said.

The parcel totals 74,000 square feet with one acre of developable land, all zoned downtown commercial enterprise.

Hanson said the original plans for the site are no longer the likely outcome of the property parcel. He noted the growing need for office space in downtown Kent, especially for law offices, makes an office building the most likely alternative. However, the ShoWare Center a block away on James Street has led to an increased interest in the hospitality industry and created a need for more hotel rooms in town, making that a possibility also, Hanson said.

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