State parks commission approves St. Edward Seminary lease proposal

Saint Edward Seminary in Saint Edward State Park on the Kirkland and Kenmore boundary. Reporter file Photo

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission unanimously approved a motion directing State Parks Director Don Hoch to sign the McDonald property exchange and 62-year St. Edward Seminary lease agreements with Daniels Real Estate of Seattle.

“I want to save the seminary building,” Commission Vice Chair Mark Brown said. “It’s the heart of St. Edwards State Park.”

St. Edward State Park is located in Kenmore on the boundary with Kirkland.

Daniels plans to preserve the historic seminary building and turn it into the Lodge at St. Edward, which will have a hotel, restaurant and conference center.

“The lodge will help introduce people to what the state parks can offer,” Commission Chair Steve Milner said.

The commission held a special meeting on Monday morning in Olympia to vote on the matter, which drew hundreds of people to a public hearing last week at Bastyr University. The special meeting was also projected in the city council chambers at Kenmore City Hall for locals to hear what happened.

Karen Prince, who spoke against the project at the public hearing, was one of the dozen people gathered at Kenmore City Hall. She said she and others who have opposed the lease of the seminary building will continue to hold state parks and Daniels accountable for the property and the park by suggesting things such as more parking options including shuttles or implementing environmentally friendly building techniques.

“It’s incumbent on us to hold them accountable to make sure the things we love about the park aren’t destroyed,” she said after the meeting. “The building is historical, but the landscape is historical and the road going in there is historical.”

Between last Thursday’s public hearing and Monday morning’s meeting, some changes were made to the lease based on testimony taken at the hearing. They include more educational space in the redesign of the building and allowing for the property’s parking plan to be periodically reviewed for updates.

Hoch and Kevin Daniels, president of Daniels Real Estate, signed the exchange and lease agreements following Monday’s meeting, and the lease will go into effect once Washington State Parks has ownership of the McDonald property, which is 9.77 acres of undeveloped woodland adjacent to St. Edwards State Park.

“The team and I are honestly very excited that we’ve cleared one of the initial hurdles,” Daniels said of the commission’s unanimous decision to move forward with the exchange and lease agreements.

Daniels said he would continue to engage with members of the public as the process to renovate the seminary moves forward.

“That’s the only way to get the community to feel like they’re part of the solution,” he said, adding he frequently takes outside input into account with his projects.

What’s next

Last month, the City of Kenmore released the Final Environmental Impact Statement on the proposed Lodge at St. Edward. The FEIS and more information about the project’s environmental review process can be found on the city’s website at www.kenmorewa.gov/lodgeatsaintedward.

The appeal period deadline for the FEIS has been extended to 4:30 p.m. Jan. 20, and a public meeting will be held at 1 p.m. Feb. 14 at Kenmore City Hall. More information about the appeal process can be found at the above website as well.

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