The silver lining?
The city could find out by the start of the new year which new big-box store is coming to town.
The Monroe City Council this week voted 5-2 to approve the sale of 24 acres on the north side of N. Kelsey to Seattle-based Sabey Corp.
The company will pay $7.5 million for the land at the intersection of Chain Lake Road and North Kelsey Street. The city was hoping to get $9.6 million.
“I am not thrilled,” Councilman Tom Williams said at Tuesday’s meeting. “(But) I don’t think there is anything else we can do to sweeten the deal.”
A majority of the council rejected an offer of $9.6 million from Sabey last year, because they were concerned that the company would bring in Wal-Mart. The deal the council approved Tuesday does not prevent Wal-Mart from coming to the site.
Councilman Kurt Goering said that he wanted a “no Wal-Mart” clause last year, but the rest of the council rejected it at the time. Now, he doesn’t think the city should stand in the way if Wal-Mart wanted to open here.
“I don’t believe that it’s our role is to pick and choose (which store comes),” Goering said. “That’s why we have zoning.”
As part of Tuesday’s deal, the city also will pay $600,000 of an estimated $2.1 million in environmental studies before construction can begin.
“I think we are giving too much away,” said Councilman Tony Balk, who voted against the deal.
The city has owned the 24 acres on the north side of N. Kelsey since it bought the property in 1940 from the state for $40, Monroe’s operations director Brad Feilberg said.
The city will use money from this sale to pay for part of the $11.3 million the city owes on 23 acres on the south side of N. Kelsey Street, which the city bought from Snohomish County. The city hopes to use the money to make a $6.5 million payment due in October 2012.
The remaining money would pay the environmental fees and the commission for GVA Kidder Mathews, a Seattle real-estate company, Feilberg said.
Under the agreement, Sabey Corp. has until June 2012 to pay for the property. By that time, the Seattle development company hopes to have reached a deal with a major retail store.
Sabey Corp. and Monroe have been negotiating for the past 10 months, Sabey spokesman Jim Kneeland said. During this time, Sabey has approached several stores about the land. Kneeland said there are “candidates” but no agreement has been signed.
He declined to mention any specific stores until the company reaches a deal.
Kneeland said market conditions were the main reason the price dropped.
Voting for the Sabey deal on Tuesday were Williams, Goering, John Stima, Margie Rodriguez and Bridgette Tuttle. Councilmembers Balk and Patsy Cudaback voted against.
Meanwhile the city has received a proposal to purchase about 1 acre on the south side of the North Kelsey territory. The proposal was received on Nov. 29 and the city is preparing a counter offer, city administrator Gene Brazel said.
Alejandro Dominguez: 425-339-3422; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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