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McMenamins strikes deal to take over Bothell's W.A. Anderson Building

If Bothell City Council approves, the W.A. Anderson Building on Bothell Way Northeast will become home to a McMenamins hotel, restaurant, pub and movie theater. - Tom Corrigan, Bothell-Kenmore Reporter
If Bothell City Council approves, the W.A. Anderson Building on Bothell Way Northeast will become home to a McMenamins hotel, restaurant, pub and movie theater.
— image credit: Tom Corrigan, Bothell-Kenmore Reporter

"First and foremost, we have the ability to preserve the (W.A.) Anderson Building," said Bothell City Manager Bob Stowe in talking about a tentative deal the city has reached with the McMenamins hotel, restaurant and brewery chain to take over the historic school on Bothell Way Northeast.

According to the city and McMenamins Marketing Director Renee Rank, plans for the Anderson Building include a 70-room hotel, full-service restaurant along with smaller pub spaces, a movie theater, catering space, a gift shop, day spa and a soaking pool.

Stowe added McMenamins will offer live music along with movies in what is now the school gym.

Rank said that if anyone is interested in what the Anderson Building eventually may look like, they can check out the McMenamins Kennedy School on the company Web site.

McMenamins took over that school building in Portland, Ore., refurbishing and reopening it in 1997 with many of the amenities quite possibly headed for Bothell.

According to Rank, the company is looking to close its deal for the Anderson Building in April 2011. Construction would begin in May 2012, with an opening date of June 2013.

Stowe said the purchase price for the property is $7 million in cash and community benefits. One of those benefits is McMenamins taking over the shuttered Ruiz/Costie Northshore Pool, closed since August of last year.

Stowe said McMenamins' hotel guests will have access to the pool, but so will Bothell residents, free-of-charge, for 15 years after the pool reopens.

Stowe and other city officials emphasized the deal for the Anderson Building is subject to approval from City Council. That group is slated to take up the issue at its June 15 meeting.

"It's great news," Mayor Mark Lamb said of the pending project. "It's extremely exciting news."

For his part, Stowe noted the city has been working for some time on well-publicized plans for redeveloping Bothell's downtown and spreading retail and residential development north along Bothell Way.

"This is the first significant private sector investment," he said.

According to Stowe, McMenamins plans on putting about $15 million into the Anderson Building and four surrounding buildings, including the Northshore Pool.

With 53 properties in Oregon and Washington, McMenamins is known for taking over historic buildings and remodeling them for commercial use. McMenamins has three Seattle restaurant/pubs along with a Mill Creek location, Rank noted. But the nearest hotel location is in Centralia. She added the firm long has been interested in bringing such an operation closer to the Seattle area and has looked at a number of potential locations.

"Everything just kind of came together," she said, regarding the Bothell site.

Stowe said city staffers and McMenamins spent about nine months hashing out the details of the overall agreement. He added the deal includes performance assurances by McMenamins. He said the city did not want to sell the property without a development plan in place and ready to go. Stowe added that while three years might seem a long interval to wait for a grand McMenamins opening, the site will need some environmental remediation. Just as importantly, he added that remodeling the structure will take some significant planning and construction.

Built in 1931, the Anderson Building is currently home to the Northshore School District's Secondary Academy for Success, which will be moving to a brand-new home in Canyon Park. The Anderson structure is part of the 18 acres Bothell purchased from the school district along the west side of Bothell Way. The city takes control of that property in August.

A year ago this month, local historians and preservationists gathered in front of the Anderson Building, many carrying signs stating, "This Place Matters."

Other signs suggested the former school would be a great spot for a McMenamins. The company had tried unsuccessfully to take over the former seminary building in St. Edward State Park in Kenmore.

In the past, local historian Pat Pierce said attempts have been made to place the Anderson Building on the state register of historic places, but added the school district had made too many changes to the original structure. In discussing the pending McMenamins deal, Stowe said the pact calls specifically for preservation of the building.

Incidentally, Pierce has an answer for anyone wondering who was the W.A. Anderson for whom the building was named. Initially, the structure was Bothell Junior High School. It gained its current moniker in honor of its first principal upon his retirement.

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