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Kenmore library talks to resume with real-estate group

Here’s a preliminary rendering of the new Kenmore library planned for 6531 N.E. 181st St. - Submitted graphic
Here’s a preliminary rendering of the new Kenmore library planned for 6531 N.E. 181st St.
— image credit: Submitted graphic

Plans for a new Kenmore library may be back on track, according to King County Library System Director Bill Ptacek.

Ptacek said local library officials were slated to meet Jan. 27 with real-estate managers for the United States Post Office.

Post-office plans could be key to the future of the local library. The King County Library System has settled on a spot at 6531 N.E. 181st St. for a new Kenmore branch. A major sticking point is the fact the post office currently leases space in an existing building at the spot.

In early December, postal officials were slated to be in Kenmore to scout out an alternative location for a local post office. Just shortly before that scheduled visit, Ptacek said he received word the trip had been canceled due to budget concerns.

The post office has a lease on its current space until 2011, a lease Ptacek described as one that would be hard to break. If postal officials decide to stay put, Ptacek fears the new library might be left in limbo until the post-office lease expires.

Since the cancellation of that first visit, Ptacek said library leaders had direct and indirect conversations with postal officials. The system also recruited the help of U.S. Jay Inslee, District 1, though it isn’t clear how much involvement Inslee’s office has had with the issue. A spokesman for Inslee did not return a phone call.

Ptacek said the library system has identified two potential locations for a new Kenmore post office, though he declined to give details on those locations. As he has in the past, Ptacek said the library system also has offered to cover the cost of moving the post office and even to pay the cost of the office’s lease until the facility was relocated.

The meeting between library and postal officials happened after the Reporter deadline for this issue, but Ptacek was looking at the very fact postal leaders were willing to visit Kenmore as a good sign.

“I think people are really heartened,” he said.

A Seattle-area spokesperson for the postal service, Ernie Swanson said post-office location decisions first are handled by a Denver, Colo.-based real-estate office.

“They’re the facilities folks,” he said.

Swanson was aware representatives of the Denver real-estate group had called off their initial visit, but didn’t know that trip had been rescheduled. He said any decision made by Denver officials then would have to be approved locally.

If postal officials decide they can relocate, how long would such a move take? Swanson said the answer would depend on where the office was moving. He said the process would require a minimum of several months, if not longer.

In the past, Ptacek said the Kenmore branch project “was ready to roll.” He said design work was 25 percent complete. More recently, he added the library system probably had sunk too much money into the 181st Street location to look for an alternative site.

The library system plans a 10,000-square-foot building, with construction costs set at $5.3 million. Including books and other materials, final costs have been estimated at $10.5 million.

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