Old Milltown property purchased; plans afoot for building improvements, new tenants

Old Milltown as shown during the groundbreaking ceremony for the Old Milltown Plaza community space in September. (Photo by Josh Premako)

Bellevue-based Rosen-Harbottle Commercial Real Estate has purchased the Old Milltown property at 201 5th Ave. S. and plans to invest a significant amount of money into sprucing up the building to attract new tenants.

Rosen-Harbottle principal Jerry Harbottle told My Edmonds News Friday afternoon that the company purchased Old Milltown on Dec. 22 for $2.6 million. According to Harbottle, the company he co-owns with Stan Rosen has been in business 16 years, has 20 employees and prides itself on its local roots and a solid track record of developing and managing commercial real estate properties.

Harbottle said the company has 39 properties between Tacoma and Arlington and they are looking forward to coming to Edmonds.

“We like the Edmonds community and are excited about filling the vacant spaces,” Harbottle said. The company is currently in negotiations with two possible tenants — one interested in two-thirds of the space, about 7,500 square feet, that had been occupied by Ace Hardware on the building’s second floor — and another looking at the corner first-floor unit, 3,500 square feet, at Dayton Avenue. He anticipates that Old Milltown’s existing tenants will remain, and noted that the dentist’s office recently signed a new lease.

Old Milltown is located on the original site of Yost Auto Co., opened in 1913 by the Edmonds pioneer family, which later sold it to Edmonds Motor Co. after World War II.  In 1973, the property was purchased by J. Ward Phillips and converted into Old Milltown, a collection of small shops and restaurants. Edmonds developer Bob Gregg bought the aging property in July 2006 and renovated it, and Ace Hardware moved in as the anchor tenant in spring 2009. However, the building was never fully leased and Cascade Bank (now Opus Bank) took the property back from Gregg in 2010. The City of Edmonds, meanwhile, is building a plaza along a narrow strip of land directly in front of Old Milltown that will include gardens, seating areas, a small stage and a water feature.

Ace Hardware vacated the second floor space in June 2011 after employees noted cracks in the floor and subfloor and it was determined that the second floor wasn’t designed or built to support the load of a hardware store. The fix would have required Ace to move out while the flooring was taken up and retrofitting completed, which the Edmonds Ace franchise owner said she couldn’t afford to do.

At the time that Ace announced it was vacating the building, the attorney for Ace franchise owner Prudence Swann said that International Building Code governs floor load limits for construction, and under the code, upper floor limits must be engineered to support 50 pounds per square foot (psf) of live load for an office building and 75 psf for retail space. Attorney Matthew Davis said that while the second floor of the Old Milltown building received a City of Edmonds permit for office use, at 50 psf, it was actually built to 80 psf. However, areas of the Ace Hardware store such as the paint and hardware aisles had an estimated 135 psf to 185 psf of current floor loading.

Harbottle said his company is aware of the second-story weight issue and had engineers take a look at the structure before purchase, noting that the tenant currently interested in the property is an office-type business suitable for the space. Down the road, if a tenant with heavier load needs expressed interest, the company would consider retrofitting the space to accommodate it, he added.

Meanwhile, Harbottle said, his company plans to make “significant” cosmetic investments in the existing building, including renovating the Dayton Street side of Old Milltown, directly across from the Masonic Lodge, which wasn’t touched during Gregg’s renovation. Rosen-Harbottle has budgeted for improvements of $100 per square foot, he said, predicting that “it will tie in nicely with what’s already been done.”

Design plans are currently being developed by an architect and will need to go through the City of Edmonds permit process before any work can begin on the space, he added.






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