Deal green-lights Mill Creek Lowe’s

By Jana Hill

Special to The Herald

MILL CREEK — Lowe’s Companies Inc. will go ahead with plans to build a home improvement warehouse this spring after receiving a $300,000 deal from the city.

The city council recently agreed to charge Lowe’s $300,800 for giving up some street rights of way even though a new state law would have allowed it to collect twice that amount.

Roger Bernstein, senior site development manager for Lowe’s, said an extra $300,000 wouldn’t normally be a deal breaker. But it was likely the project would have been canceled in light of the economy, he added.

Lowe’s plans to build a warehouse at the north end of Mill Creek off 132nd Street SE. The city agreed to vacate rights of way located at 19th Avenue SE and 21st Drive SE to accommodate the 167,000-square-foot warehouse.

The store is expected to provide 200 jobs in Mill Creek.

Tim McMahon of Mill Creek represented Lowe’s as a real estate broker and said bringing the business to town will only help the city.

"When you get someone like Lowe’s to come to your community" other businesses will follow, McMahon said.

Mary Kay Voss, council member-elect, agreed. "We’re in a stronger position as a city if we accept the $300,000, let them get this project built, (and) let the sales tax start rolling in," she said.

At an earlier public hearing, the council discussed tabling the issue until the legislation took effect, allowing it to charge the full fee of $601,600. But city staff members recommended the council approve the lower amount because that was what was presented to Lowe’s early on and because the public hearing for the right of way issue occurred before the law took effect, said Tom Rogers, senior planner for the city.

Lowe’s could have paid the fees earlier and sealed the cheaper rate, said council member Tim Austin, who joined Dan Hodge in voting against lower price. It was approved 5-2.

The company was unsure if it would receive the required permits from the state Department of Ecology.

The state had sought 200- to 300-foot buffer zones to protect nearby wetlands while city regulations asked for 75-foot buffers. Rogers said everyone compromised on 100-foot zones.

Jana Hill edits the Mill Creek edition of the weekly Enterprise newspapers. You can contact Hill at 425-673-6533 or at hill@heraldnet.com.

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