Council to consider city-proposed alternative to Landmark purchase at July 2 meeting

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

When it comes to next steps regarding the Landmark 99 property purchase, the City of Edmonds has served up an alternative, and the ball is now in the Edmonds City Council’s court.

After Mayor Mike Rosen publicly reiterated his opposition to the project during a Rotary Club of Edmonds speech in early June, city staff are making it official with a resolution on the agenda for council consideration July 2

The resolution as proposed states the council’s support for “community investment in the Highway 99 subarea as an alternative to purchasing the Landmark property.”

It’s been a year since the council authorized Mayor Mike Nelson to sign an option agreement for the 10-acre Landmark site, located at the southern edge of Edmonds’ Highway 99 neighborhood. The agreement included a refundable deposit of $100,000 to hold the property — home to the Burlington Coat Factory and Antique Mall businesses — for six months, giving the city time to conduct public engagement and further study the idea. In December 2023, the council voted 4-3 to continue exploring whether the city should acquire the property — thus forfeiting the $100,000 if the city choses to walk away from the project.

But the city’s budget woes have raised questions among some councilmembers and residents — and were cited by the mayor in his Rotary speech — about whether the timing is right for the council to pursue the $37 million property purchase.

The agenda memo accompanying the draft resolution for the July 2 meeting noted that the Landmark acquisition was intended to accomplish several things:

1. Create public space in an area of parks deficiency

2. Foster place-based redevelopment on neighboring parcels as a catalyst for positive change

3. Improve safety and security by applying crime prevention through environmental design strategies

4. Increase the city’s sales and property tax bases and, thereby, improve the sustainability of tax revenues over time

Instead of purchasing the property, staff recommends that the council continue pursuit of those objectives by supporting three initiatives in the Highway 99 area:

– Establishing a Community Renewal Area, an idea proposed earlier by staff.

– Studying the possibility of tax increment financing (TIF). It allows municipalities to use the incremental increase in property taxes due to redevelopment to repay bond costs for infrastructure improvements, which spur positive redevelopment in a tax increment area.

– When feasible, creating an account in the city’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP) to fund acquisition and/or community-focused investments in the Highway 99 area.

And speaking of budget challenges, the council is also scheduled July 2 to hear a report from Mayor Rosen’s Blue Ribbon Panel regarding its conclusions and recommendations related to ensuring the city’s financial health.

Prior to the 7 p.m. business meeting, the council will meet at 5:30 p.m. to receive an update from Rosen on a range of topics, including the council’s work plan, the 2024 Comprehensive Plan update, city-owned assets, budget development, the wastewater treatment plan, retail theft and “ensuring Edmonds is a safe and welcoming community.”

The 5:30 p.m. meeting will be in person in the Brackett Room, 3rd floor of Edmonds City Hall, 121 5th Ave. N. You can also view it remotely at https://zoom.us/j/95798484261. Or join by phone: US: +1 253 215 8782. The webinar ID is 957 9848 4261. You can see the meeting agenda here.

The 7 p.m. meeting will be in the council chambers, Public Safety Complex, 250 5th Ave. N. It can also be viewed via Zoom or be joined by phone using the same links as above. In addition, the 7 p.m. meeting will be streamed live on the Council Meeting web page (where you can see the complete agenda), Comcast channel 21, and Ziply channel 39.

  1. Editor- thank you for reporting on the agenda for the special meeting between the Mayor and the City Council. The agenda topics are complex and cannot be covered in any detail in the time allowed. But even a high level briefing on where the City is at is welcome. I look forward to reading your column about the meeting highlights in a couple days. Thanks for the time you invest in covering City business. There’s a lot going on right now.

  2. Thank you Mayor Rosen and staff for bringing common sense to the Landmark 99 discussion.

  3. The City has managed to take the really bad idea of the Landmark purchase and morph it into full employment for city staff and consultants.

  4. Problem solved-put up more red light cameras. We should be able to fund the Landmark site with ease. I could easily be a member of this City Council.

  5. My vision is a unique, boutique hotel on this site … jobs, jobs, jobs and a taxed business.

    1. I came in here months ago and gave them the idea of a Boutique Hotel with adjoining clubs with music and different themes in every club along the indoor hallways. Ampitheater for named bands and dancing. It would be a very large nice hotel that would bring in tourists as well as local citizens for dining and drinking and just having a good time. I told them what we had in IOWA that was and still is a huge success. It was called Pizzazz and it was owned by the wealthiest of the wealth. The jobs this would bring in would be amazing and I might suggest a wing for housing for some workers. Cocktail waitstaff, cleaning service folks. All of it and helping our town and helping our citizens who cannot afford to rent or own here. Look it up. It was around 1975 or so when the club i mention opened. IT was always packed and that small city was the size of Edmonds. People came from all over to enjoy it and bands that were really good also every single night. Resident from King and Snohomish will use this type of facility and hotel tourist guests will shop in Edmonds and play at night at this facility. It will not hurt our DT core it will help it. Art Gallery too there!

  6. Does “Improve safety and security by applying crime prevention through environmental design strategies” mean cleaning up graffiti? Or improving lighting? It would be nice to see the long awaited “Community Renewal Area” pay some attention to the Interurban Trail east of 76th. The Interurban Trail is an Edmonds Parks property and gets a tremendous amount of foot and bike traffic…but the Parks Dept. seems to have abandoned it. I think the Parks Department (and Mayor by extension) should be embarrassed by the graffiti, overhanging blackberries, and gritty look/feel of our segment of this regional bike trail.

    The Parks PROS Plan has all kinds of happy talk about “investments” in parks in this area. Let’s start with basic maintenance of the Park we already own there.

    1. John is absolutely right. With the new housing coming right there this will be a draw for people who plan to purchase. It is an area that is also underserved, and it could be very nice. I don’t know why the parks department isn’t interested. I know money is tight, but this should be on the schedule for getting it done fast. This is also a place where volunteers from Edmonds and Mt Lake Terrace could do volunteer work for the clean-up. Yeah, we do need help to stop the graffiti and well we need some type of incentive to stop those destroying? Hum? What could that be I wonder? There must be something. We need community centers that hopefully will encourage all who have a grievance to come and to talk and to ask for what they want. What can we do to replace anger and hostility with hope and joy? We might reach many and they might tell others? I hope so. I refuse to give up on human beings.

    2. John – while I fully agree with you regarding the state of the trail, the issue itself is actually more complicated than that and what Edmonds actually has oversight over, they do maintain. I would encourage you to reach out to the city to learn more about the complexities with the specific area you are referencing. That said, as a daily user of the trail, I would agree with you that something needs to happen there but as it currently stands, it’s basically nobody’s problem. I know the mayor is aware of it but what they can actually do independently seems to be a conundrum.

      1. I know of a vigilante graffiti cleanup crew that is ready to go to work…but that will only take care of a small part of the problem and will only be a temporary band aid. It seems like the Parks Dept. has no vision of how a nice, safe-feeling trail suitable for after dark walking or bike commuting should be managed. I don’t usually subscribe to the equity argument of here vs the Bowl but the condition of this Parks property would never be tolerated if it was down in the Bowl area.

        1. I certainly agree with some of what you’ve said here, specifically the fact this would all be a non-starter in other areas of town. That said, I would be happy to assist in the graffiti cleanup and you are welcome to reach out to Teresa to get my contact information.

  7. So just having thrown away $100,000 to buy a few more months time to consider a bad deal from the start; only to determine this idea was also a bad one when the city is essentially broke; is somehow an example of great new and enlightened management? Man, are some people easily impressed.

  8. Christine – can you explain your vision to the property developers in the Puget Sound region, and ask them to get out their check books to built this hotel? The city did an RFEI (request for an expression of interest) and then an (RFP) request for proposal and this is what the developers response was: 1) market rate apartments 2) market rate mixed use buildings if the city pays for part of it 3) affordable housing apartments with some retail on the first floor. No hotel developers are interested in the Burlington Coat Factory site at this time. Besides, the jobs you mention at the future hotel are low paying jobs. The workers would have to take light rail and then a bus to get to work. And they would be working in one of the highest crime neighborhoods in Edmonds. Will you be encouraging your friends to apply for those jobs?

    1. If no one wants to purchase this property, why is it that the property owner won’t come way down in his asking price? It might be that a large hotel chain would have an interest in working with the Puget Sound Region. Read what I wrote T and let me tell you more. The people who worked in the establishment I spoke of made big bank in tips and wages would be good and insurance provided too. As I said the County could help with the on site housing for employees. It could be wage perks combined with small rental fees. We must think out of the box. This area here now with Seattle in a bit ha of disarray is prime for a large, nice hotel. We are the gateway here to more than Edmonds. People can stay here and Bus to the city of Seattle and come back to their rooms for nighttime entertainment, Eat there or DT etc. all of it. The North end and Skagit are going to grow a lot. Faster than South of Seattle. Think big. Big things could happen. FIND investors that have a vision and research other places that have had much success. Hope for enough change that this area will no longer be dangerous. I would CONT.

  9. cont. Ok. If this area is so so dangerous why are so many encouraging riding the busses and your bicycles and even walking down the highway? Make it prettier? Come on this have it both ways is getting very tiresome. IT seems to me that once again we need to make up our minds those who live in that area and those who do not. I am hoping that eventually laws and law enforcement will continue to improve. I am hoping real help for folks who are not really being helped will eventually be available in our STATE. You see we wouldn’t have these problems if we had better facilities for TX. If people would just realize that just like with WW 2 the addicts on Crystal Meth were so addicted some could not be helped. We need detox centers with REAL help medical help, psychological help and even job training as people begin to detox and begin to have psycho analyses some of them can still be saved. I want to help people and I want to stop in this state with all of the crap that doesn’t work and leaves a trail of destruction behind that is so very sad. It is preventable. Honestly WA you really don’t have an alternative to my idea. You will sink. People will go to other states.

  10. As someone who lives in the Lake Ballinger neighborhood, I’m pleased to see we have a potential to move away from the purchase and instead focus more holistically on the needs of this area that isn’t 800+ units of housing when really we need investments in community safety/policing and vibrancy. Even though we’ve wasted very valuable time and money, at least it will be better than moving forward with this misguided project long term.

  11. The majority of council continually voted for this. The responsibility lies here. One may want to question those council members who voted in support and ask how 100K plus could have been put to better use pursuing this deal during a budget crisis.

  12. The 99 Landmark project has been a manure sandwich since day one because of infeasible financials and questionable governmental process. The role of city staff and a handful of City Council members is certainly not a point of pride in this fiasco. It’s time to move on and make some actual needed improvements to the neighborhood in a thoughtful and intelligent manner.

  13. Why is the City looking for more ways to spend money? Yes, get rid of Landmark99!!! However, do we really want to increase sales tax and property tax to do something (which as stated could be just about anything Staff or Council comes up with)? Way too open ended. I vote not to increase taxes in these already difficult times. If the citizens that pay those taxes demand specific actions then it makes sense to discuss funding sources. Adding taxes without specific and measurable projects is not responsible.

  14. Just speaking for myself, as long as we have Councils and Mayors who think just throwing away 100K is no big deal my answer will be NO at the ballot box when they come asking for more property tax money for anything. If my house burns down, it burns down, or if I keel over and no one comes to my rescue, so be it. We have people on our Council who are supposedly accountants and competent small business managers that let over paid city management types talk them into doing stuff like this. It’s beyond unethical at worst and irresponsible at best. When I see across the board management pay cuts of at least 10% and a total freeze on hiring until the budget is balanced with money spent only on real city needs I say don’t give them any more money to waste.

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