Major retailer signs for site of former LHS

  • Tue Oct 12th, 2010 8:23pm

By Oscar Halpert For The Enterprise

LYNNWOOD — A major retailer says it will build a store on the site of the former Lynnwood High School just north of Alderwood mall, Edmonds School District officials announced Oct. 6.

It could be a year or longer before construction begins on the district property, according to officials.

Texas-based Cypress Equities reached an agreement Oct. 5 with a retail tenant to build on about 15 acres of the 40-acre site, said Marla Miller, a district assistant superintendent.

She declined to name the retailer, but said an announcement could come as early as this week.

The deal ends more than a year of negotiations between the district and Cypress, which in 2009, citing the downturn in the economy, withdrew its original development proposal for boutique shops, a hotel, residential and commercial space.

Miller said the only difference now from that original proposal is that a larger portion of the project will be devoted to the retailer who reached the agreement with Cypress.

Word of the agreement was welcome news for Lynnwood city officials, who’d worked closely with Cypress and the district in 2008 to come up with a plan that would redevelop the site and require Cypress to build a “loop” road connecting 184th Street Southwest to Alderwood Mall Parkway to reduce congestion around the mall.

The city next will work with the developer to iron out a development agreement, a process that might include new environmental studies and zoning changes with public hearings before the City Council signs off on any plan, said Paul Krauss, the city’s community development director.

“It is inevitable that this is going to be a different project than the one we had been working on,” he said.

The former high school site, at 3001 184th St. SW, has been vacant since 2009, when students moved to $99.8 million Lynnwood High School on North Road in unincorporated Bothell.

A 20-year, $140 million bond voters passed in 2006 pays for most of the new high school’s construction. Grants, state funds and timber sales pay the rest.

The bond also will pay for construction of a new Meadowdale Middle School, expected to open in fall 2011.

Cypress has a 30-year ground lease with the district, with options to extend the lease to 99 years, Miller said.

She said the district expects to bring in about $1 million annually under the lease, with 10 percent rent increases built in every 10 years. The district, she said, has projected that the lease will earn it about $150 million in revenue over 99 years.

“We’re fortunate to have property that is owned by the taxpayers and not currently needed for schools,” Miller said, “so we do have an opportunity in the meantime until we do need it for schools to generate an income. Not every school district is in that position.”

By law, that money can only be spent on construction projects.

Cypress expects to develop another 18 acres, most likely with a combination of shops, residences, offices and possibly a hotel. Portions of the property are wetlands and won’t be suitable for commercial development. The Dallas-based company did not respond to requests for comment.

Oscar Halpert writes for the Herald of Everett.