A 10 acre parcel off of Highway 99, between 240th and 242nd Street Southwest that the city of Edmonds is currently in the process of acquiring on Monday, July 10, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

A 10 acre parcel off of Highway 99, between 240th and 242nd Street Southwest that the city of Edmonds is currently in the process of acquiring on Monday, July 10, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Edmonds ditches $37M Landmark public park project off Highway 99

The previous mayor envisioned parks and more in south Edmonds, in a historically neglected area. The new administration is battling budget woes.

EDMONDS — Amid a budget crunch, Edmonds is going back on a $37 million plan to redevelop a plot of land off Highway 99.

The city planned to turn the 10-acre lot into into public parks, recreation centers and other civic-minded projects. In June 2023, the City Council put down a $100,000 deposit on the site.

The deposit was refundable for six months, if the city changed its mind. Since the city is pulling out of the project too late, it won’t get its money back.

But as City Hall leaders continue to claw out of a budget deficit, the Edmonds City Council voted 6-1 on Tuesday to not go forward with purchasing the “Highway 99 Landmark” property.

City Council member Susan Paine was the sole vote against the resolution.

The property, between 240th and 242nd streets SW just off Highway 99, currently houses a Burlington Coat Factory and the Aurora Antique Pavilion.

The 10-acre plot sits near the county line. (City of Edmonds)

The 10-acre plot sits near the county line. (City of Edmonds)

Former Mayor Mike Nelson initiated the Landmark project last year in an effort to revitalize south Edmonds. The Highway 99 neighborhood is a “historically undeserved community,” Nelson said last year.

At the time, the city was exploring methods to pay for the project, including via tax increase or grant funding.

“From the very beginning I was very skeptical about the project due to its location, the size and our city’s financial health,” council member Will Chen said.

Halting development on the Landmark site “doesn’t mean ceasing development on the entire corridor,” Chen said.

The resolution passed Tuesday night states the city will instead “demonstrate its continuing commitment to making future investments in the Hwy99 subarea.” Those commitments include establishing a community renewal fund to pay for investments in the corridor.

Still, some council members expressed frustration that the city has historically neglected the neighborhood.

“When the city was flushed (with cash), we didn’t do enough for that area,” council president Vivian Olson said.

Redeveloping the landmark site would have put more public spaces in a neighborhood that lacks public parks, Planning and Development Director Susan McLaughlin said.

It also could become a “catalyst for safety through environmental design, as well as police activity in the area,” McLaughlin said.

Though the city won’t immediately go forward with the landmark site, officials will keep eyes on the lot and keep talks open with the landowner for future projects.

Jenelle Baumbach: 360-352-8623; jenelle.baumbach@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @jenelleclar.

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