The final public meeting ahead of the upcoming Edmonds City Council decision on whether to proceed with the proposed $37 million purchase and sale agreement for the 10-acre Landmark 99 property drew a mixed bag of responses — some in favor, some opposed and many on the fence. The Saturday meeting, held at Edmonds-Woodway High School, drew approximately 75 participants.
Located along Highway 99 in southeast Edmonds near the Edmonds-Shoreline border, the property in question includes the Burlington Coat Factory building, which has been home to several businesses over the years.
The City of Edmonds acquired an option to purchase the 10-acre parcel earlier this year.
The deal — announced by Mayor Mike Nelson in a June 22 press event — offered Edmonds the opportunity to secure an option to buy the property by putting up a $100,000 refundable deposit to hold it for six months while the city studied the possibilities and developed a vision for the area. The city has developed a project webpage and engaged Roewe Works to help develop design options.
Saturday’s meeting was the second of two public meetings. The first was on Oct. 21. The event was hosted by Edmonds Planning and Development Director Susan McLaughlin, who provided background information and an overview of the project and timeline.
“At this time there is no foregone conclusion that we’re actually going to buy it,” she cautioned. “That’s still to be decided. Today we will present three options for you to consider and discuss in small groups that could form the basis of moving forward.
“At our first public meeting, you identified your top priorities as having a community center, a recreation facility, retail and dining, and a police annex, and we’ve made the effort to include these in the options you see today.” (See bar chart graphic).
“I should also note that we never envisioned that the city would invest in this alone – a public-private partnership is critical, not just from a cost-sharing perspective but to get a healthy mix of uses,” she said.
Matt Roewe of Roewe Works then took the podium to review three draft design options offering different concepts of how the property might be developed. Called the Town Square, Village Green and Neighborhood concepts, these are intended to provide snapshots of broad ideas ranging from more to less intensive development, any of which could later lead to a final design.
The Town Square concept offers a pedestrian promenade along with facilities including a community center, retail stores, a branch library, a police annex, an amphitheater and apartments.
The Village Green plan has an open green space at its heart, and could host street fairs, farmers’ markets, and similar events. It also includes a police annex, a library, and a recreation/aquatics center.
The Neighborhood concept offers more housing options including three-floor walkups and cottage housing, along with retail space, a library and a police annex.
See the attached PowerPoint for more drawings and details of each option.
After a short Q and A, the attendees split into breakout groups to look at the design options, fill out a questionnaire, and report back on their group findings.
Group comments varied, with many expressing frustration that they had very little time to look at all aspects of the project – particularly the financial implications. Some wondered if alternative options along Highway 99 were available, and if the city had looked into these.
Examples of specific questions/concerns raised by the groups are as follows:
“Citizens who don’t want this at all are not getting a chance to express themselves. Why are we not being presented with a ‘none of the above’ option?”
“We like the Town Square best, but traffic is a huge concern. We like the potential of being able to walk to small shops in our neighborhood.”
“What will be the impacts on neighborhood property values, and will the current infrastructure be able to handle the influx of people?”
“This part of the city has been neglected for too long. I live here and I think these improvements would enhance quality of life.”
“We need more information on the financial burdens this will impose. We just don’t have enough at this point to decide.”
“What about the three acres of trees on this property? All the concepts include removing these. Don’t we want to keep trees, especially along Highway 99 where there are so few?”
“Good concept, but not the best location.”
“Does the city have the staffing capacity to handle this?”
“It’s time to put more money into south Edmonds.”
“It feels like we are rushing to decide before the purchase window closes. We think that’s irresponsible.”
“We need more time to consider this.”
With the six-month window for the refundable deposit scheduled to close on Dec. 31, city planning staff will bring the issue before the council Nov. 28 meeting, including a summary of public input received at the two meetings, design alternatives prepared by Roewe, financial details and other pertinent aspects. The council is scheduled to vote on whether to proceed with the purchase and sale agreement at its Dec. 5 meeting.
“At the Dec. 5 meeting the council will vote on whether to drop the project or proceed,” explained Community Services and Economic Development Director Todd Tatum. “If the vote is no, we walk away, stop the planning process, and get our $100,000 back. If the vote is yes, the seller keeps our $100,000 and we will spend much of 2024 and beyond working toward the proposed September 30, 2025, closing date. This will include putting out a request for proposals (RFP) for a partner to join us in developing – and paying for – the project, working out financial terms, developing a final design, and conducting environmental and permitting processes. Full council packets are available on the city website the week prior to the meeting for public review.
“And remember that we can still walk away from the project anytime before the September 2025 closing date,” he added.
The session ended with McLaughlin providing her email (email@example.com) and contact information to attendees, encouraging them to take more time with the questionnaires but to submit them prior to the Nov. 28 council meeting so the information can be included. She also encouraged citizens to contact their city councilmembers directly – emails are available here.
“It is important that we include feedback from this and the previous public meeting in the materials presented to council on Nov. 28,” she reiterated.
See the full PowerPoint with drawings, charts and more information here.
More information is on the project website here.
— Story and photos by Larry Vogel