Kenmore approves draft Lakepointe parameters

The draft agreement provides a broad range of options for the city and developer to explore

The plan to develop on the Lakepointe property in Kenmore took another step forward at a city council meeting last week as the city reviewed a parameter agreement with developers.

Lakepointe is a 52-acre industrial site at the mouth of the Sammamish River and Lake Washington that has also served as a landfill in the past. The city of Kenmore has been eyeing the land for development for decades, but the last major attempt to develop it failed in the early 2000s after the collapse of the dot-com bubble. At an Oct. 22 meeting, the Kenmore City Council reviewed a parameter agreement between the city and Kirkland-based developer Weidner Apartment Homes.

The agreement provides outlines for negotiations and planning moving forward, including setting a range for the number of housing units and square footage that will be built. It does not bind the city or developer to any specific actions.

Several Kenmore residents spoke at the meeting, including local environmentalist Elizabeth Mooney, who questioned whether the state Department of Ecology had given the go-ahead for the project to proceed and what toxins were in the soil stemming from its former use as a landfill.

Questions from other speakers included whether the bridge on 68th Avenue Northeast had capacity for a new development, and if it did, whether the state would provide funding for a replacement. One speaker asked whether the power grid was capable of supporting the development and if a new substation would have to be constructed. One representative from the nearby Kenmore Air, which runs a hangar and floatplane business on Lake Washington, said the proposed development at Lakepointe was incompatible with their business. Council does not respond during public comment periods.

Included in the parameter agreement are ranges of design intensity that will be explored. The number of residential units could be between 1,000 and 1,600. Office and commercial space could be between 550,000 and 650,000 square feet while there could be between 100,000 and 150,000 square feet of retail, including waterfront restaurants. According to the agreement, Weidner will try and break ground on the first phase of construction by 2022 and finish by 2024.

The total cost to develop the Lakepointe property has been pegged at $1.5 billion. Because of this high cost, any development would likely require a public-private partnership, Kenmore city manager Rob Karlinsey told the Reporter in previous coverage. According to a feasibility benefits study completed earlier this year, which weighed the total estimated economic benefits to the developers against costs, there is a roughly $155 million gap between the two. The study found that Weidner would take this as a loss if it developed Lakepointe on its own. A public-private partnership would let the city help fill that gap.

This could be done by granting Weidner tax credits and exemptions to help offset costs. The city could offer the developer a multi-family property tax exemption from city property taxes for 12 years, with the length dependant on how many affordable units it created. If streets and public parks are created, the city could give the developer credits to offset impact fees.

These measures would make up half of the funding gap and Karlinsey previously said he hopes the state would make up the rest.

This story was clarified to reflect the fact that the council did not approve the agreement but gave feedback to staff on what they would like to see in it.