By John Wolcott For The Herald
SMOKEY POINT — Developer “Red” Jacobsen, creator of Park Place Center, Creekside Village and other structures in the Mill Creek Town Center, is dreaming again.
This time, he has plans for a 10-story hotel, recreation, retail and condominium complex in Smokey Point that could cost $100 to $200 million to build, depending on bids. Construction could begin in 12 to 18 months on land Jacobsen owns west of I-5 between the south end of the Lakewood Crossing shopping center and the adjacent Twin Lakes Park.
At 74, Jacobsen refuses to retire, as his family and others have urged. A recent survivor of cancer, a heart attack and a stroke, he still has a quick mind, easy going sense of humor, a full head of his trademark red hair and twinkling eyes that light up when he talks about the newest project that won’t let him retire.
“I’ve always wanted to build a project like this. Besides, I’m too young to retire,” he said.
He’s still inspired by the thoughts he’s had painted on his office wall in Park Place Center at Mill Creek Town Center: “Risk more than others think is safe. Care more than others think is wise. Dream more than others think is practical. Expect more than others think is possible.”
This time he’s really dreaming big.
He already has design approval from the city of Marysville for a nine-story hotel but wants to add another floor. Inside, the hotel lobby will feature two multistory waterfalls, glass elevators, atriums and entrances to two 1,000-seat performance stages, one at each end of the 880-foot-long, glass, steel and concrete building.
A huge fitness and wellness center will be at the center of the complex, along with a giant food court with 26 restaurants. Space on the first three floors is designed for 162 retail specialty stores. The top seven floors will be for condominiums, tentatively priced from $266,000 on the lower floors to $499,000 on the top floor.
The front of the hotel, which would become the tallest building in north Snohomish County, will face south, offering views of Mount Rainier, the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges and Puget Sound. Jacobsen plans to dredge the Twin Lakes, improve the water quality for swimming and even add sparkling sand to the beaches.
He’ll also add a six-story parking garage on the north side, adjacent to the Lakewood Crossing shopping center’s array of stores that include Costco, Best Buy, Office Depot, Petco and a variety of restaurants and retail outlets.
Just as imaginative as the hotel complex design is Jacobsen’s financing plan for the giant project. He’ll do it without bank loans.
“The banks are just not lending now, and it’s really disappointing. But I don’t need them. This will be financed by my partners, including my architect and construction contractor. We’ll price retail and condo space below the market to make sure we fill up fast. As condos and retail space is sold in the building, we’ll use the revenue to pay back investors.
But each investor will also get a percentage of the project’s revenue afterward as profit. By the time the building is finished, pre-sales and retail leasing will have paid off the building so profits from operations go directly to the original investors,” he said.
He does have a bank commitment for financing the condo sales.
“It’s the right project on the right site at the right time,” he said, noting that population and business growth in Seattle and King County can only grow northward, “which means north Snohomish County, where there’s enough space.”
The Icelandic flag on his desk, alongside his bottle of pure Icelandic spring water, is a constant reminder to Jacobsen of how far his dreaming, imagination and hard work have brought him.
“When I came here I was only 10 and didn’t speak any English,” Jacobsen said. “I went through Seattle schools and graduated from Garfield High School, where I learned to play American football. I made good money for many years as a factory rep for auto parts and accessories on the West Coast, then got into construction, which led to my buildings at Mill Creek Center. This new project is going to be really, really nice. People will love it.”