Judge approves Potala Place market plan

EVERETT — The long delayed opening of an upscale food market in downtown Everett just got a little bit closer.

A federal judge this week gave the OK to a federal receiver’s plan to finish the Potala Place project, which has been stalled by a lawsuit and federal investigations.

Potala Place was envisioned by developer Lobsang Dargey as a mixed-use building with 220 apartments and a high-end market on the vast ground floor.

Last August, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission sued Dargey, his company Path America and many related business entities, accusing him of fraudulently raising more than $125 million from at least 250 investors.

The suit also accused Dargey of misappropriating funds for personal use, including lavish spending on a luxury home in Bellevue and cash withdrawals at casinos. The FBI also has opened an investigation.

Dargey has denied wrongdoing. In the meantime, a federal judge put Dargey’s companies into receivership, and construction work halted.

Potala Place was close to completion, and many of the apartments had been rented out, but the commercial space on the ground flood was an empty cavern. The court-appointed receiver, Michael Grassmueck, this month presented a plan to complete the project more or less as Dargey intended, led by one of Dargey’s former business partners, Steve Carlin.

U.S. District Court Judge James Robart approved the proposal on Tuesday. Robart noted that Dargey agreed with Grassmueck’s business plan and also had asked that the project be completed. The SEC did not oppose the motion.

The approved plan has a target opening date of January 2017, and calls for a year-round farmers market, a boutique grocery, a meals-to-go service and a French bakery.

Carlin has proposed renaming the building the Grand Avenue Marketplace, and estimated it would cost $4.2 million to complete.

Chris Winters: 425-374-4165; cwinters@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @Chris_At_Herald.

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