By Sarah Kehoe The Bothell Reporter
BOTHELL — The city will celebrate construction of a new city hall at a ground-breaking ceremony at 10 a.m. Wednesday at 18305 101st Ave. NE.
Part of Bothell’s ambitious vision for downtown revitalization, the new City Hall will be part of a multi-use block known as the City Center. The development team is led by City Investors Development, an affiliate of Vulcan Real Estate.
“This is an historic moment for Bothell, one that has followed over a decade of public discussion,” Mayor Joshua Freed said. “Bothell citizens can be proud that their vision is a success.”
Located in the heart of Bothell’s downtown, the City Hall and multi-use campus is a key element of the city’s downtown revitalization plan that has already attracted more than $200 million in private investment and is expected to stimulate an additional $450 million in private investment.
The new City Hall replaces a building that was built in 1938 at a time when Bothell’s population was approximately 800 people. Bothell’s current population is 41,500. The mixed-use gathering place includes a three-story, 251-car parking structure beneath a 53,000 square foot office building and town hall/community meeting rooms.
“Their vision re-imagined Bothell’s historic downtown in a way that would stimulate economic growth and ensure a revitalized downtown reflective of the values and fabric of their community, for current and future generations,” Freed said. “The City Hall is an important piece of that vision.”
The vote for a new City Hall by the Bothell City Council was 5-2. The majority of members felt the new building was necessary, but some people, including Councilwoman Tris Samberg, took issue with the cost. The total bond issue is estimated at $53 million, which includes project costs plus financing and transaction costs.
“The total price tag is significantly higher than the $42 million we were talking about back in 2011, and I am disappointed in that,” Samberg told the Bothell Reporter when the measure was passed. “The first time the council and the public saw that $53 million price tag was at our June 3 meeting, and it was shocking.”
City Manager Bob Stowe said the increase in the final cost of the building is simply a result of an increase in cost and labor over time.
“We worked very hard with the members on our development team to make the price tag as low as possible,” Stowe said. “We aren’t here to build the Taj Mahal. Our goal is to build a basic office building that will be an asset to our community and last us 75 years.”
Stowe said bonds for the City Hall project received an interest rate and annual payments significantly lower than what was originally presented in June, reducing the financing period by six years.
“It is Bothell’s prudent fiscal policies and smart investments that have made it possible to move forward with the City Hall project,” said John Finke, senior program manager at the non-profit National Development Council. “We’re proud to be a partner in this exciting project.”
The National Development Council will lease back the City Hall to the city. Ownership of City Hall will transfer to the city at no additional cost when the debt is fully paid.