City announces plan to acquire 10-plus acres of land to become new Hwy 99 Landmark Site

Edmonds Mayor Mike Nelson announcing the tentative agreement in which the city would acquire 10-plus acres of land along Highway 99 to develop as a landmark site.

In a Thursday morning press conference, Edmonds Mayor Mike Nelson was joined by Edmonds City Council president Neil Tibbott to announce the city’s plan to acquire a substantial parcel of land located adjacent to the city’s southern gateway on Highway 99 that will form the heart of the new Highway 99 Landmark Site.

The property — located along Highway 99 between 240th and 242nd Street Southwest — includes what is now Burlington Coat Factory, the Aurora Antique Pavilion and the former Mick Finster’s Pub and Grill, plus three acres of undeveloped space. It does not include a hot rod shop located on 240th Street Southwest (see map).

The Landmark Site is located just east of Highway 99 and includes Burlington Coat Factory.

“This is largest land acquisition ever attempted by the city along Highway 99,” Nelson said.  “In the past we have failed to give this community the recognition it deserves – well, we have heard you. This will become a landmark easily seen and recognized, a space where we can come together as a community and create something for everyone.”

Nelson went on to explain how city staff has worked with the property owner for more than two years to create this opportunity, and a tentative agreement has been reached whereby the city will pay the owner a refundable deposit of $100,000 to hold the property for the city for six months.

Edmonds City Council President Neil Tibbott explains the public engagement process that will shape the Landmark Site development plans.

“We are going before the City Council next Tuesday to approve the six-month option,” Nelson continued.  “After the first six months we will have an additional year to decide whether we want to complete the purchase – that gives us 18 months total with the first six months refundable.”

Plans for the first six months – the refundable period – include engaging with citizens in a variety of ways to attain a vision for the land, identify potential uses, locate funding partners, and more.  According to Nelson there are no specific development plans at this time, and potential uses – to be shaped by citizen input – could range from a community meeting space to a police substation to senior housing and more.

Mayor Nelson was joined at the site by City Council President Neil Tibbott, Park Director Angie Feser, and Planning Director Susan McLaughlin.

“With a piece of land this size, I don’t see why it could not accommodate multiple functions,” he added.  “The important point is that we know this land will be sold and developed, and the purchaser will decide what happens here.  We believe that the city should be in the driver’s seat.”

Tibbott then took the podium to provide more details on the public engagement and visioning process, explaining that it will begin this summer.

Nelson and Tibbott show the overlay map

“We want to hear fresh ideas from folks who live here,” he stressed.  “We plan to get this input from a series of meetings, online interactions, and through the news media.  We have six months to hear what the community wants, and then another year to put our plans together. The site is in a rumpled condition right now, but we look forward to turning this huge parcel of land into a place people can enjoy, meet one another, and participate in community connections.”

Tibbott went on to point out the prime accessibility of the site, being close to the interurban trail, several bus lines, the Aurora Village Transit Center, and a short distance from light rail connections.

“And with the bike lanes, landscaping, lighting and other improvements happening along Highway 99, you’ll be able to safely ride your bike here without having to be next to traffic,” he added. “People will easily be able to come here from other parts of the city and surrounding cities.  Children and neighbors will be able to join here and build memories.”

Learn more about the Highway 99 Landmark Project at the project website here.

— Story and photos by Larry Vogel

  1. Just no, does the city think we are made of money ripe for picking. Do our leaders ever give consideration to the ever increasing size and scope of our small city government? Senior living facility is a great idea it will be full of seniors you have taxed out of their homes. A lot of talk about the budget a lot of things that need to be done not this pie in the sky stuff. You say you need a park in the area buy part of it for a park and be done with all this pussy footing around with wasted money holding it and more wasted money figuring out what to do with it. Has anyone done a cost benefit form the mini police station yet? How about the 7 grand a month temporary rental of property for parks you idiot’s should have thought this through before. There is a idea buy this property and move all of city government up there that will be sure to break the bank.

    1. I was born and raised in Edmonds lynnwood mount lake terrace shoreline area it will be wrong and just pointless to keep tearing up land and common area people have known for a long time (generations)and so forth edmods, lynnwood is not the same anymore I can barely recognize the area I grew up in stop construction in areas that don’t need it all of shoreline,edmonds,mount lake terrace lynnwood,Everett area cost is already sky high stop all projects in progress and all further projects cost of living is to much (all or some)people will end up homeless because of this

  2. WOW! Congratulations Mayor Mike and Councilman Tibbott. I think the need for affordable housing for young and old should be the primary use with a significant outdoor play area for young and old as well.

  3. This is a good move that has the opportunity to respond effectively to several of the challenges this specific neighborhood node currently experiences and potentially meet some of the requests the community in this neighborhood has expressed as well as priorities outlined in the subarea plan. Looking forward to seeing how this develops.

  4. What’s going to happen to the Antique Mall and Burlington Coat factory? They can’t leave Edmonds! They are two of Edmonds’ Landmarks! Don’t we have enough new high rise apartments and new crammed up houses on single lots outside our bedroom windows, on HWY 99, Edmonds Way, and 220th? And what about the additional cars that will be there with each apartment? You can forget widening the road again. 244th and Edmonds Way are becoming frightfully crammed, up to the telephone polls, already. Also, at the Antique Mall, what’s going to happen to the 100’s of sellers that make their lively hood there? It’s almost like we have our own little Pike Place Historical Antique and Art Center! Why can’t we work that angle? I think having the city of Edmonds keep a private developer from ruining the neighborhood may be a good thing, only as long as the city Developers make it where keeping the Antique Mall will be included in the deal. It is as much a Museum as it is an Antique Mall.

    1. This project appears to have been considered for awhile. I am against the purchase of this property because private business owners will do a much better job of developing and maintaining these 10 acres. The city did not disclose the total cost of the 10 acres either. This is outside the scope of what the. city should be involved in.

  5. Please let me know where the Antique Mall is going to be relocated. I’m really sad about it!

    1. Perhaps 5 Corners with some nice little sandwich shops and coffee shops added. Some parking there for Antique shoppers. I did frequent Antique shops a lot thru my years of Art work and just interest so I went to the Coat Factory Antique Mall too. It did have many wonderful finds. But I thought younger people didn’t like Antiques. I gave my left overs away years ago. But they are awesome for repurposing or using just as they are. Solid woods, Beautiful glass and Bone China…So much in one of these types of Malls. I would literally stay all day and be the last one to leave before closing. So yes if the interest is there again we should help those vendors and have a spot just like you want. I agree.

      1. All the young people I know in their 20’s and 30’s love going to the Antique mall and Burlington Coat Factory. Even my 14 year old Granddaughter will stay in there all day, and buy stuff with her birthday money from the Antique Mall. It truely is an all day event to go there! The way they are set up makes it possible for lots of people to sell there. Last time I checked, there was a 6 month waiting list to rent a spot in the room. Then, they take a very reasonable percentage of what sells. I would hate for Edmonds to lose that. Younger people are drawn to this stuff. It’s all new to them, and they can afford to buy, and sell there, too. A lot of the stuff was invented before they were born. We just cant lose that place! I’ll miss Burlington’s too. My son loves to buy his clothes there.

        1. I hope we find ways to maintain all of the businesses that are thriving and generating tax revenues for the city. 99 is a powerhouse of city tax revenues.

  6. This purchase will greatly increase our taxes making even more difficult for those on fixed income to remain in their homes.

  7. To purchase this property with no concrete plan is not smart business and is problematic. With no plan and an open time period for development, there is a large chance of the property being taken over as a homeless camp. This would cost the city more money for cleanup. I think our city has more pressing issues for taxpayer money.

  8. Having a place where people can come together (and an affordable meeting place for non-profits) is a practical investment in our community. (In an area that doesn’t get as much love as the bowl.) A park is a shared space that is a great equalizer if we are concerned about our shrinking middle class. I think this, if developed smartly, can be a great thing for our community. You may have nay-sayers but that just puts the ball in the city’s court to prove them wrong. If done smartly, ten years from now this will be just one more reason Edmonds is a great (and caring) place to call home. Thanks Mayor Mike and Councilman Tibbott.

    1. Hear Hear, Rick! That area could use some leadership and improvement. I hope you’ll help steer this endeavor. I think you have shown good leadership in our community. I appreciate the investments and choices you have made. I hope we can improve that area for all Edmonds citizens. Hopefully it will spur further investment in an area that has been neglected and is not thriving.

  9. Does anyone remember what was in the building north of the Burlington Coat factory that burnt out was? It’s been sitting empty for years. Now I don’t remember what it was.

    1. Mick Finster’s Pub and Grill. I am 99% sure that it started out as a 1940s-era roadhouse called The Silver Sipper.

    2. It was a bar. It was shut down 10 years ago and it has been an abandoned eyesore ever since. Now homeless people are literally ripping the siding off and making holes through the walls to get in. And for those that view Burlington and the Antique mall as Edmonds landmarks, come spend some time at my house. I live 3 blocks away and that area attracts drug activity, prostitution, homeless people and thieves; and they drift down the street where I live and and am raising my kid. There are used needles in the Burlington parking lot, human feces, garbage; it’s disgusting. There have been tents in the undeveloped portion of the land, and again, needles everywhere. The theft that occurs at Burlington and the nearby TJ Maxx and Safeway is astronomical. Then there are the shootings; we hear gunshots way too often and way too close to my house. It would be so nice to have it developed as was done up on 196th; gym, restaurants, shops; a clean space that is safe and pleasant for the community. Thank Goodness for the Edmonds Police Dept. I have had to call them so many times and they are always responsive and supportive. I’m tired of the crime and the filth that the property attracts in it’s current state. Time for a change.

      1. There is a homeless encampment in the public right away triangle just west of Hwy 99 and between Edmonds Way. Dubious motels in the area also seem to be crime magnets. Policing is the answer along with removal of illegal encampments on the public right of way and forcing currnt owner(s) of the property to clean it up or face a nuisance lawsuit from the City.
        The City buying up dodgey properties on Hwy 99 at excessive prices it cannot afford is not the answer. The 196th development you reference was all private development.

  10. Wouldn’t it be nice if the 261 unit Terrace Place apartment building was located on this property instead of on the corner of 84th Avenue W and 236th Street SW?

    Then that site could be made into a park benefiting the citizens of South Edmonds west of highway 99.

    A guy can dream.

  11. I just want to thank our fearless state Rep.s and Senators for seeing to it that I can now build a two story tiny home on the North part of my lot. This way I’ll be able to afford to stay in Edmonds by charging someone else mega rent to live here too. Then I might just be able to continue paying my escalating property taxes to keep helping out my neighbors up on Hwy. 99. Our current leaders bounce from one pie in the sky project to another faster than rich people can obliterate themselves trying to be 10ft. from the Titanic wreck. After the debate last night, I’m totally convinced our only real hope is Buckshnis for mayor with a rational approach to planning and spending based on needs first and wants as actually affordable.

    1. This Landmark project to me sounds like a financial nightmare for the city. What is the cost of this property? I didn’t see that amount included in the mayor’s remarks. Can the city expect outside financial help without a development plan? Let’s fix the problems with Perrinville creek and take care of the Edmonds Marsh before buying a piece of property that sits idle for years because the city can’t afford to develop it.

  12. A nice idea on the surface of it (understanding the challenges of this site living in somewhat close proximity in the Lake Ballinger neighborhood), BUT, without any indication whatsoever of the total anticipated cost of the purchase, the potential implications that would have for taxpayers, the total cost of the development of the site from the city perspective (again, and the implications it would have for taxpayers), the timeline, and the glaring issue of a long trail of trust issues with management of city initiatives and transparency, it is just very hard to get behind this effort. Which really, is a shame, because I would love to be able to be behind this and champion it but I just cannot bring myself to do it mainly due to the last point. A better and probably more feasible approach would be to relocate the police station from downtown to HWY99, which has been brought up many times particularly by CM Chen, which I believe has broad support from many constituents. Again, it is a shame that it is too little and too late to feel convinced that this would be a successful endeavor from the city.

  13. Based on other vacant lots in the Puget Sound area, it would not be surprising if this property becomes either a “campground or RV park”. Nearby, the city can’t even clean up abandoned shopping carts that are scattered. Good luck for the city managing this property when inevitably sits vacant for years.

  14. Finally! Having the vision to clear out this blighted eyesore is future thinking. Not needed is a high-rise apt building. Priority is income-based (affordable) senior housing and smaller homes for purchase … creating a communal enviroment of invested and responsible tenants. Green it up and plant many trees!

    Needed is a police substation … our Edmonds police deserve the best!

  15. Rick Steves, thank you for your comments! When we saw this announcement yesterday, we though of you, and your support for community spaces, including the space developing in Lynnwood. We live in one of the neighborhoods in the Highway 99 area and are excited to participate in a process that considers what all of our communities (so much diversity here, of every type) are interested in and need – recreation space (indoor and outdoor) community space, space for seniors to get services and gather, a small branch library, and so much more.

    For those who see this area as just a place of drugs, crime, unsafe places, and car dealerships: my neighbors and I call it home. We chose this neighborhood over others in Edmonds. We love it here. We rarely go to the Bowl, frankly.

    I think the key part of this is the process of getting input from neighbors in all of the 99 neighborhoods, plural…it’s not just one neighborhood…. and see what folks are interested in.

    The Highway 99 area is not a ‘problem’ to be solved. It’s communities to engage with.

    1. I read and reread these comments. I like yours the best Kim. I would like to see some carry over into the 5 corners area also. However I love a diverse community and look forward to a nice community center and library and recreational center inside and outside. A place to gather and get to know each other here on the Hill. I would also like to see a nice farmers market as nice and with quality food and gifts and pretties ha etc. just like the Bowl. There is $ to support this in the up hill. It would be great to have a spot for Artists to work too. I am sure we have many up here also. Maybe even Art work shops , gift shops (as many as possible featuring Artisan works and some that don’t. A couple more reasonable priced restaurants and coffee shops all of it. I can only speak for myself but I enjoy being with diverse groups of people to me they are much more fun and interesting. I have always felt this way being a child of the 60’s and very open minded. I support this and I support diversity. XO

  16. I appreciate the positive sentiment for this purchase but who is paying for it and how much? An opportunity grab without a concrete plan, while ok for private citizens, is lame for our government to be doing. I think everyone would agree that part of 99 is in need of some sort of love but I hope this does not turn into businesses getting in line to get sweetheart deals – our local oligopoly. Community park & public works/ police substation seem ok (toss in a disc golf course please).

  17. Has anyone noticed that there is already a city park about three blocks east of this location. Mathay Ballinger Park. My boys enjoyed it often when we lived on 76th years ago. Not sure when the
    “Mathay” moniker was added. It was just Ballinger Park in those days. Nice playground & picnic area.

  18. The City needs to give tax rebates and relief with excess funds instead of playing developer in their spare time. I cannot get a pothole filled in Edmonds on my street yet these suits have time to spend hard earned tax dollars on projects that private businesses do in their sleep….disappointing.

  19. It would be great if we could turn this property around from a place where the police department had a permanent parking spot in front of the Burlington Coat Factory, into a place the entire community could enjoy. I hope that our city government can work together to make that happen.

  20. This is an interesting development. Until further details are known, I think it’s premature to fully understand the future potential for this site or the cost to reach its potential. Just a quick check of County tax records suggests that the current market value for tax purposes is approximately $14M. The current contribution to property taxes is nearly $100,000 which will come off the books once it becomes city property.

    This should be an interesting discussion as we go forward.

    1. Correct, Jim. This was a surprise announcement to me and no “cost analyses” or projections of total development cost has come forth to Council. It’s an interesting concept but it has not been vetted in an executive session and certainly over the Mayor’s 100k limit. But that seems to be the MO of this administration: make a surprise announcement and deal with minor details like spending millions of dollars for purchase and redevelopment.

      1. I like your comments Diane. This is a bad idea from all standpoint. Wonder if those in charge of our tax money would bankrupt their budgets on a folly like this. My taxes are high enough.

  21. Thanks to the administration for the work on this opportunity. It has potential, and I am excited to explore that. I appreciate the 6 month window of time for analysis and look forward to the community conversations.

    It is premature to call this “a plan to acquire”. Instead, it is “a chance to vet a potential acquisition”.

    1. Vivian is our 100 grand tied to a purchase price,? Commercial real estate is in a downturn could be in a few years the property might be had for a song. Might be better to save the 100 grand think about it for a while get a plan together figure out how you are going to do it without raising taxes and get back to us. When it is something you want you almost always overpay, I think this owner has us right where he wants us. Don’t jump the gun.

  22. I like it too Vivian. I see much potential here for everyone. It sounds like it could be really cool to me.

  23. I would suggest a new main library, new main police station, community park and social center paid for by selling all current downtown city property not related to parks or water treatment. That should bring in millions. The small satellite police and library should be located downtown; not on 99. Gifts from wealthy citizens for whom paying more property tax is no problem would be totally welcome in the funding process.

  24. Why? What city purpose is being served here? No one seems to want to say why the city should be in the real estate development business for what will be a lot of money. How much? This is prime commercial property which should be developed to enhance the city tax base. This deserves a lot of scrutiny as to what the true motives of the city may be.

  25. A gateway mixed-use space on this site would be a significant long-term benefit to the area. I applaud the city representatives in pushing for this acquisition as an investment in its future. This site in particular seems ideal because it will provide a unique destination for users of the Interurban Trail.

  26. The Purchase Price is disclosed in the City Council’s Agenda Packet for the June 27th City Council Meeting. The following is found on packet page 174:

    Purchase Price: The Purchase Price shall be THIRTY-SEVEN MILLION DOLLARS
    AND ZERO CENTS ($37,000,000.00) all cash at closing. The Option Payment shall not
    count toward the Purchase Price.

    Please excuse all caps – this is simply a cut and paste from the agenda packet.

    1. Thank you, Ken, for adding some detail and reality to this story. The $37 million price tag plus developmental costs probably make this a very dubious venture but then again some of these politicians and their supporters proposing this can self-pleasure themselves over this fantasy.

      1. You bet Brian. Packet page 177 mentions “Tax Increment Financing (TIF)” several times. The City’s website offers this information:

        Tax Increment Financing (TIF) is a financing tool that municipalities can use to fund large scale infrastructure projects in order to catalyze positive redevelopment. TIF captures property taxes generated from the increased assessed valuation on a publicly owned site that results from private development following infrastructure investment.

        TIF is widely used across the nation, but Washington state cities have only recently gained access to this tool as state legislation was signed on May 10, 2021. Though property tax revenue increases are typically limited to 1% annually, a TIF allows a city to collect revenue on the increased value of properties at the normal tax rate, bond against the expected future tax revenue, and use those funds to construct the designated infrastructure improvements. Tax rates in the area do not rise, but the city will collect more revenue due to the increased property values created by the infrastructure improvements and new development.

        Once the bonds are repaid, the increment area is dissolved, and taxation is distributed per the normal percentages to schools, ports, counties, and other entities.

  27. I really like the idea of the city controlling the type of development that is done at such a cornerstone site. However, that is if they do not develop one that is ultimately city-owned. I fear that they will run away with the project’s goals as they did with the Civic Field renovation and accomplish a marginally, if at all, better facility with the added benefit of ever-increasing taxes. I’d like to see it sold to a developer who would build a self-maintaining facility, such as a multi-use community like that just north of Juanita Beach that features retail shops on the ground floor and quality residences on the uppers.

  28. If we want retail businesses to thrive in Edmonds; having a housing supply that people on minimum and modest wages can reside in should have some priority. There are Federal, State and non-profit entities who support local governments who take organized actions to incentivize the private sector to build below and market rate housing. I can see this site having multi-story residential buildings with enough area for play grounds and maybe a P-patch garden. There could be some street facing retail property too.

  29. I like your idea of building a housing community alongside the transportation corridor. But I think an addition of low-income housing is ungood when you subject people of lower income levels to the higher cost of living in Edmonds. I think the community’s residents and the surrounding city would be better served if it was to be developed more upscale. Over the last 10 years many thousands of low-to-medium income apartments have been built — and that effort continues today — between north Seattle and South Everett. Most of those projects take advantage of government financial support that tap taxpayers’ wallets. I think that a higher-end community would renew this particular area that has fallen over the last 50 years and reward the city with new commerce and an ethos that better benefits Edmonds’ residents.

  30. I too would sorely miss the antique mall.
    It’s a unique shopping destination for many of us, as well as a source of income for the vendors. This would be the second antique mall erased from Edmonds. Sure, the museum is great, but there wasn’t anywhere for the mall to go. It was displaced and gone for good. Wouldn’t it be fabulous if there were a nod to the antique mall on this property in question?

  31. Wasn’t there a mention of there not being enough funds for our beloved Fourth of July fireworks, by a city employee a while back? I recall them saying something to the effect of “..if you have any ideas of how to finance it, let us know.”
    Am I mistaken?
    Clearly there are funds available and the space at Civic Park to hold it.

  32. Should citizens of Edmonds be told how Council President Neil Tibbott (Tibbott) came to participate in this Press Conference?

    Was Tibbott at the June 22, 2023 Press Conference as an individual or as was he there representing City Council? When Tibbott used the term, “we”, was he referring to the City Council or was he referring to himself, Mayor Mike Nelson and City Staff?

    Had the full Edmonds City Council previously discussed this complex transaction involving 10 acres of land during an Open Public Meeting or in Executive Session?

    Much talk about not having an Executive Session took place during the June 27, 2023 Council Meeting and then the Council suddenly entered Executive Session just before 10:00 pm without voting to do so.

    There is no mention of hiring a consultant in the article above. Why wasn’t this need disclosed from the very start? Had it been disclosed, the option agreement would not have been approved. See Councilmember Dave Teitzel’s comments documented in the article referenced below, including:

    “Had he known about the need for a consultant, Teitzel said, he never would have voted to approve the option agreement.”

    https://myedmondsnews.com/2023/08/council-votes-to-table-discussion-on-landmark-99-property/#comment-502641

  33. Please save the last Edmonds Antique Mall and all the vendors! This is the character of our town! There is enough room for a police substation too! And maybe a public market! No apartments! And guarantee that nobody’s house taxes will be raised! Holly L. Bynum Kline

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