Allocate $250K for Landmark 99 consultant? Council set to decide Aug. 22

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

A key decision facing the Edmonds City Council during its Tuesday, Aug. 22 business meeting: Whether to allocate $250,000 in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to pay for a consultant to dig deeper into the city’s proposed purchase of 10-plus acres in southeastern Edmonds.

The asking price for the property that would comprise the Landmark 99 purchase is $37 million. During its June 27 meeting, the council voted 3-1 with two abstentions and one absence to authorize Mayor Mike Nelson to sign an option agreement for the possible future purchase of the site. 

The city put down a $100,000 deposit that is refundable if the council chooses not to pursue it by the end of the year. Some of the ideas put forth so far for the site include parkland, a community or civic center, a police station and affordable housing.

The $250,000 staff is requesting for the project was originally allocated for facade improvements to businesses impacted by the COVID pandemic. Staff admitted they have not advertised the facade program — approved by the council as part of the city’s 2023 budget — because they determined it would be difficult to administer.

In its agenda memo for the Aug. 22 meeting, staff acknowledged that during the council’s Aug. 15 meeting, “some councilmembers voiced concerns” about using funds for consultant this early in the process.

“An acquisition of this size requires consultant services in due diligence, master planning, and development/ financial consulting to properly vet the property and to share robust analysis with the council and community that factors into decision making,” the agenda memo states.

“Our discussions with peer cities, along with our professional experience, have led us to this budget request,” the memo concluded. “Staff has done extensive research to outline a project approach, along with consultant needs, that is both lean and thorough. Council authorization of these funds will afford staff the tools to get the answers council will need to make the decision on whether to move forward; it is yet to be determined whether they will uncover insurmountable roadblocks or reveal a clear, financially prudent path to addressing our community’s needs on this site.”

Also on the council agenda for Tuesday night:

– Report on city fund balance reserve and contingency reserve balance

– Storm and Surface Water Comprehensive Plan update

– Resolution thanking ECA Executive Director Joe McIalwain

The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. Aug. 22 in the council chambers, Public Safety Complex, 250 5th Ave. N., Edmonds. You can watch remotely via this Zoom meeting link: Or watch by phone: US: +1 253 215 8782 Webinar ID: 957 9848 4261.

Regular council meetings beginning at 7 p.m. are streamed live on the council meeting webpage (where you can also view the complete agenda), Comcast channel 21, and Ziply channel 39.

  1. I can’t believe that the Mayor and City Counsel are determined to waste so much money on a plot of land that should be purchased by a developer and turn into Live/Work development.

    $37M would go a long way to providing badly needed SAFE walkways and low lighting. I’ve never lived in a city with so few sideways and just plain DANGEROUS walking areas.

    This proposed purchase does not pass the smell/common sense test.

  2. The storm and surface water plan update to be discussed at tomorrow’s city council meeting is also very important. Citizens might want to tune in to the presentation at the council meeting or review the information via the extended council agenda published on the city website. The article in this issue of MEN about state stormwater regulations does a good job of explaining the significance of effectively managing stormwater.

  3. Doesn’t this City have enough REAL municipal problems that have been neglected the past 3 years – let’s stop the lunacy with this Landmark property and get City staff back to their municipal operations responsibilities.
    Travelers through our City on Highway 104 are now calling us “stinky” Edmonds with the sewage smell from the trucks transporting sewage on the highway – – Why isn’t the problem being fixed – – is it a money issue – – if so, Council should be focusing on that and not the $37 Million fiasco.
    Our Parks maintenance also is going down the drain (literally) – – bridges are being closed, hillsides are eroding, and salmon eggs in our creeks are being smothered with sediment – – and nothing is being done. It’s time to demand that the Parks Director focus her time on the funding budgeted for maintaining existing Parks and stop wasting taxpayer money on fiascos.
    I’m biting my tongue on the Comp Plan update waste of public funds for contractors and just hope Council kills this Landmark folly so that City staff can get back to work on REQUIRED components of the Comp Plan update.

    1. Joe,

      I agree completely. Councilmembers Buckshnis, Olson and Teitzel had it right last week voting to end this “Landmark folly,” as you called it, now. I hope that vote is revisited tomorrow night. Allocating $250,000 of ARPA money to hire consultants to “vet” this project at Director McLaughlin’s request is not only “folly” it’s a highly disturbing use of ARPA funds. email is back in use. I encourage everyone who wants to see this folly ended so that staff will instead focus on all of the issues of importance that are being brought up, write to and express your opinion.

  4. The city should not be buying private land. They have control of too much property as it is. Who will be paying for the land and paying to develop it and paying for the expense of management of the new property which for now will be taken off the tax rolls? The people who live in Edmonds and pay the taxes. That is the residents, both property owners, and renters in the City.

    The mayor should be putting his own private money in that area if he wants to see it developed.

    DO NOT BUY THIS Boondoggle.

    Cliff Burns – Edmonds Wa

  5. I totally agree with the NO NEED for added property to develop. It’s not the roll of government to do that. The Aurora site is perfect for developers to design a plan that will make money, provide services and PAY TAXES. IF THE CITY OWNS, I doubt taxes would be received that would even come close to what a prices company or group of owners would contribute to to the tax troll.
    We need to STOP even thinking of this consideration of land purchase.

  6. Eligible uses of these funds include:

    Revenue replacement for the provision of government services to the extent of the reduction in revenue due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, relative to revenues collected in the most recent fiscal year prior to the emergency,
    COVID-19 expenditures or negative economic impacts of COVID-19, including assistance to small businesses, households, and hard-hit industries, and economic recovery,
    Premium pay for essential workers,
    Investments in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure.

    How does hiring a consultant fit these ARPA guidelines? How many actual hours are necessary to complete this study before the end of year $100,000.00 deadline? There are so many legitimate uses for $250,000.00 to improve our infrastructure.

    1. Yes, email Council directly, call them and if possible, come to the Council meeting tomorrow night, August 22, and make your feedback/comments part of the public record. You can also phone in comments. Meeting begins at 7 pm. Here is a link to the page with tomorrow night’s agenda….

      Making comments on MEN is not.enough.

  7. “Staff admitted they have not advertised the facade program — approved by the council as part of the city’s 2023 budget — because they determined it would be difficult to administer.”

    And yet,

    “Staff has done extensive research to outline a project approach, along with consultant needs, that is both lean and thorough.”

    My questions:
    – Why didn’t staff do “extensive research” to determine how to administer the $250,000 ARPA “Facade Improvement Program” funds that were requested, and approved by Council, in the 2023 budget?
    – Are staff now presenting other unused ARPA funds, as Council President Tibbott requested, that they want to pilfer to support this $250,000 request?
    – If they are, why were those ARPA funds not used as approved by Council?

    Nick, is back now, so no need to email to individual Councilmembers.

    1. Joan,

      Thank you for this post. This needed to be expressed. These ARPA funds were designated for a specific purpose (ALL related to COVID-19 impacts), and there are people and businesses that were affected, and that did/do still need this financial aid/support. However, it grates on me to know that city staff didn’t even try to get this program out there to those who need it, and apparently held it back as a slush fund for other “pet” projects. Quaere: did all the other communities in this country that received these ARPA funds intentionally hide them from deserving recipients, on the (laughable) premise that it was “too difficult” to administer them for their intended purposes? Really? A person should have a paper bag on their head to even try to make that argument.

      I appreciate what some on council (including the Council President and the Mayor) and the city staff are trying to accomplish with this project, and it is not a bad idea in general but I am completely dismayed by the methods being employed. It pains me to write this, but this is wrong.

      1. Paul,

        You’re welcome, and thanks for your thoughtful comments. I agree that use of $250,000 of ARPA funds for a consultant and “the methods being employed” are “wrong.” Councilmembers Chen and Nand each said in the 8-15 Council meeting that they could identify many businesses that could benefit from the Facade Improvement Program. Staff should be directed to use these funds as intended.

        The agenda item for this request for $250,000 (9.3, p.166-167 of Council packet) no longer references unused ARPA funds, as requested by Council President Tibbott. In fact, it says nothing of where these funds will come from. It’s curious that an earlier agenda item (9.1, p.138) “Report on City Fund Balance Reserve & Contingency Reserve Balance” has no narrative, or attachments, for Council or taxpayers to review in advance of tonight’s meeting.

        My email to will request Council deny this staff request, and direct staff to seek the input they need from Edmonds residents and stakeholders through review by the Economic Development Commission and by the Planning Board. In my opinion, these groups will do a better job for Edmonds residents than a paid consultant.

        1. Ms. Bloom, thank you very much for writing and presenting your perspective as a former CM. You make perfect sense, if only some on this council will listen.

  8. Last week CM Buckshnis made a motion to cancel this very bad deal and get our 100K back. The motion failed with Olson and Teitzel voting with Diane to drop it and the other four voting to stay in the game. I hope Diane re makes that motion this week and at least one of the four no’s on the motion becomes a yes.

    We are just generally not well served by the government we have now and have had for decades. At least we have an opportunity for some new blood on this Council next year, if some of the current CM’s don’t wise up to what the public really wants from our Representatives in terms of wise use of our resources for everyone; not just a few here and there.

  9. I believe the city is allowed to use ARPA / SLFRF funds as a result of the August ’22 Interim Final Rule which increases flexibility and expands eligible uses to “develop”, finance, and establish affordable housing projects, and specifically in rental markets where there are gaps in financing for units serving households between 50% and 80% AMI and/or significantly higher than average housing costs relative to AMI that have led communities in this income threshold to be impacted by the pandemic. Recipients of these funds are encouraged to prioritize SLFRF investments for affordable housing in close proximity to, or with strong transit linkages to, centers of employment and/or institutions that provide high quality education or childcare, health care, services and healthy foods.

    Additional eligible uses can be made in disproportionately impacted communities for developing neighborhood features that promote improved health and safety outcomes, such as parks, green spaces, recreational
    facilities, sidewalks, pedestrian safety features like crosswalks, projects that increase access to healthy foods, streetlights, neighborhood cleanup, and other projects to revitalize public spaces.

    If presumptions like this are allowed under it’s Final Rule, then the city can apply for use of these funds to develop these project types.

    1. Thank you Jeremy for highlighting some of ideas and funding mechanisms.

      But, this is no dress rehearsal and no money (ARPA or internal professional service budgets) should be used as right now we are gambling taxpayers money with a four month timeframe to boot.

      Those of us that have been involved in municipal finance will tell you – we MUST move back to basics and attempt to increase revenue to cover the costly expenses from the past two years made up from increased headcount, salaries and benefits, plus professional services (80% of budget) and our fire contract.

      Our financial position and projections are seriously in need of transparency. We can’t afford to “jump the shark” and invest $37mm in a parcel not worth that much at the 75/25 (non-earning to earning) split. We need the revenues recognized from the sale. We can always partner with the developer in the future when we all have a better financial picture with accurate forecasts.

      I would prefer to walk away from this project than lay off staff! Citizen must ask for financial transparency, accuracy of projections and accountability. These last two budgets have not helped matters at all and blame is both ways.

  10. Our city Staff is way too busy to implement the program authorized by the Council for spending this windfall $250K as the funds were intended to be spent. But, they do have plenty of time to spend on plotting how to get the Council to tell them it’s a good idea to spend the money on Consultants paid to recommend that the city take on another Mayors’ pet project.

    It was brought to my attention this morning by a neighbor that 70% of the people who voted in the Primary don’t want this Mayor and his Directorial Staff back next year. I’m very much in agreement with this 70% of the voting public. I don’t like the idea of telling intelligent people who they should vote for, but it’s pretty obvious to me who they should not vote for.

  11. I have yet to hear how this area is underserved. Are they not close to a lake and Puget sound plus a trail system and park, are they not within a few miles of services hospital, city government. Do they not have access to bus service or food and retail shopping close by. No they are not underserved in any of these ways what they do lack like many of our neighborhoods is sidewalks and lighting. This 37 million plus development costs would be better used in this area on things that would actually improve their neighborhood. Please put a end to this lunacy now and don’t waste any more of our resources on it.

    1. The 37 million is only a down payment on the land. To develop public amenities on the site will probably cost double that amount. The “underserved” narrative trope is mostly a canard. The CHC Community Health Center, grocery stores, multiple international cuisine and shopping opportunities, numerous service businesses, constant police services, numerous housing choices including some affordable housing, planned bicycle path improvements, established transportation options, Dick’s Burgers, and the list goes on and on. Kind of makes you feel sorry for those for those unfortunate souls that have to live down near the bowl, that have to go up the hill to get these quality services.

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