The DNR originally looked to swap 27 acres of trust land in Kitsap County for a smaller privately owned parcel in Arlington on which a Bartell Drugs operates. It dropped that plan in favor of buying the commercially zoned property outright. (Washington State Department of Natural Resources)

The DNR originally looked to swap 27 acres of trust land in Kitsap County for a smaller privately owned parcel in Arlington on which a Bartell Drugs operates. It dropped that plan in favor of buying the commercially zoned property outright. (Washington State Department of Natural Resources)

An Arlington Bartell Drugs will help build public schools

The 1.5-acre lot will bring in $483,000 annually for a statewide fund used to build public schools.

ARLINGTON — The state Department of Natural Resources usually deals in trees and timber, but this month it moved to purchase a new asset — a Bartell Drugs in Arlington.

The department board agreed to buy the 1.5-acre lot and building at 7423 204th St. NE for $9 million Dec 3. Once the transaction is completed, the agency will garner a new stream of money for a statewide fund used to build public schools.

The state will manage the lease with Bartell, which is projected to bring in $483,000 annually for the Common School Trust.

More than 13 years remain on the current lease. The company can renew every five years for up to an additional 25 years.

The purchase is a pivot from a September plan to swap 27 acres of trust land in Kitsap County for the Arlington parcel.

“Land transactions like the proposed exchange can be incredibly complex,” trust spokesperson Kenny Ocker said. “The timing … wasn’t going to work out right.”

Instead, the department hung on to the forested acreage abutting Highway 303 near the Kitsap Mall and bought the Arlington land outright.

Brian Sims, a spokesperson for the Washington State School Directors Association, sees the move as adding a stable cash flow with low risk.

“It is, I believe, a smart acquisition,” he said at the Dec. 3 state Board of Natural Resources meeting. “It improves revenue.”

This purchase is part of a larger department push to diversify its holdings beyond timber. The state agency will now manage 27 such ground leases where it owns and leases the underlying land.

Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz said Snohomish County is an ideal location for the investment.

“Snohomish County is one of the fastest-growing counties actually in the nation,” she said. “This puts us squarely in that community in the urban growth area.”

Julia-Grace Sanders: 425-339-3439; jgsanders@heraldnet.com.

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