Bothell City Council approves McMenamins deal

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

With a 6-1 vote, Bothell City Council cleared the way June 15 for the arrival of a McMenamins hotel and restaurant complex in the W.A. Anderson Building on Bothell Way Northeast.

Speaking to council, City Manager Bob Stowe said words can't adequately describe what McMenamins could do for downtown Bothell, contending the entertainment complex will "actuate and animate" the plan of Bothell officials to grow the city north along Bothell Way.

As recently announced, McMenamins designs for the Anderson complex include a 70-room hotel, full-service restaurant along with smaller pub spaces, a movie theater, concert space, a day spa and gift shop.

The deal calls for the sale of the Anderson Building to close in April 2011. Construction would begin in May 2012, with a city-mandated opening date of June 2013.

In addition to the Anderson Building, McMenamins also will be taking over the currently closed Ruiz/Costie Northshore Pool to which Bothell residents will have free access for 15 years once it reopens.

Pool operations are part of the $4.7 million in community benefits included in the $7 million the city will receive for the Anderson property and four surrounding structures covering 5.4 acres in total. Cash payments for the property amount to $2.3 million. That last figure is at least partly what elicited the lone council vote against the McMenamins project.

Councilwoman Tris Samberg said she supports the overall idea, but added that "sometimes the devil is in the details." She said the cash price being paid by McMenamins amounts to $425,000 per acre, only about 37 percent of what the city will pay to the Northshore School District for the land.

In a sale that doesn't close until August, Bothell has agreed to purchase from the school district 18 acres on the west side of Bothell Way, north of Main Street. Samberg said McMenamins could become a catalyst for the private development of that acreage, but she expressed concern the asking price for the Anderson property might be too low. She further argued that both council and the public needed more time to study the extensive contract with McMenamins. Still, Councilman Patrick Ewing was the only councilmember joining Samberg in a motion to table the contract for later consideration.

Ewing later said he had genuine concerns that council had not been given enough time to review the overall deal, but said he voted in favor of the package, deciding to trust in Stowe and the city staff. Other councilmembers, most notably Councilman Bill Evans, said council had seen preliminary numbers during closed-door executive sessions leading up to the public announcement of the McMenamins deal. Evans said he is confident the direct public and intangible benefits McMenamins will supply makes the purchase price a fair one.

Besides access to the pool, other public benefits included directly in the contract with McMenamins call for community rooms open to the public and a public garden space.

While Samberg and Ewing both sounded some notes of caution, for the most part, the council discussion over the project consisted of praise for that project.

"This is huge," said Deputy Mayor Joshua Freed. "Tonight is a momentous occasion."

At least a half-dozen residents joined in celebrating the deal. No member of the public spoke against it.

"I just can't tell you how excited I am," said resident Sue Kienast, adding she has eaten in McMenamins restaurants and soaked in their pools. Speakers from the University of Washington, Bothell also expressed support for the project, one predicting the McMenamins complex will gain fans among her fellow students.

While the McMenamins deal moved forward, the city also more quietly asked for proposals for two parcels surrounding the Anderson complex. Those proposals are due by the end of the month.

While he didn't go into details, Mayor Mark Lamb said the city has received significant interest in the surrounding properties and the announcement of the McMenamins deal only has increased that interest. Lamb added the property around the Anderson Building may be a quicker, easier sale than the historic building itself. He said the city's insistence that the Anderson Building be saved and not demolished automatically limited the number of proposals for that property.

Even as the McMenamins project has grabbed headlines, developers have announced they are ready to move forward with long-delayed plans to build a 150,000-square-foot shopping strip, anchored by a new Safeway supermarket, at the corner of Bothell-Everett Highway and 240th Street.

With the two projects in mind, Lamb believes Bothell is on a roll.

"I think it's been heartening to hear some good economic news," Lamb said.

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