Traffic moves along Avenue D in Snohomish next to a 9.4 acre lot recently put up for auction, but that did not sell. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Traffic moves along Avenue D in Snohomish next to a 9.4 acre lot recently put up for auction, but that did not sell. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Snohomish Midtown property falls short of $10 million minimum bid

The 9.4-acre plot is back off the market. Inflation and interest rates may have influenced the lower-than-desired bids.

SNOHOMISH — A prime piece of property in Snohomish Midtown is back off the market and up in the air.

The county set a minimum bid of $10 million for the property in a sealed auction-style sale. The 9.4 acre lot, located on Avenue D at 13th Street, was listed through Oct. 14 and has gained public interest because its development would drastically change the area.

However, no offers reached the county’s desired $10 million minimum.

Special Projects Manager Randy Blair, with Snohomish County Public Works, is the lead for the property. Blair explained that higher interest rates, inflation and capital market financing influenced the lower-than-desired bids.

“According to County’s broker, numerous parties expressed interest in the property and have requested more time to evaluate the property, prepare plans and obtain some initial entitlements,” Blair said.

A due diligence policy of 120 days for solicitation and closing proved to be too short of a window for proper evaluations to be made, according to Blair.

The county hopes to have it back on the market again soon.

“I haven’t set a time yet. I would say it’ll be a few months,” Blair said.

The parcel’s development has also stirred up debate over recent tax policies — or lack thereof.

On Sept. 21, in a split 4-3 vote, the Snohomish City Council rejected an ordinance that would have offered developers a break on their property taxes for up to 12 years if they construct multi-family housing projects with low-income units. The Multifamily Property Tax Exemption program has been implemented in areas of Seattle.

“My brokers have not told me that (the lack of multi-family tax exemptions) influenced the bid or not,” Blair said. “We were disappointed that the City Council did not provide that provision because it does provide an opportunity or an incentive for affordable housing.”

The property’s development has been up in the air since 2008, when it became surplus land.

For 50 years, the parcel had served as a “shops site property,” according to Blair, and was used for road maintenance purposes, housing sand, gravel and equipment. But in 2008, the county no longer needed it, and environmental investigations found some property contamination from oils and solvents in the maintenance equipment. The county then went through proper procedures to remediate the situation. In 2019, the Department of Ecology said no further action was required to clean the property.

“Subsequently, the city embarked upon what’s called the Midtown plan,” Blair said.

To develop Midtown, the county participated in public outreach to create a sales package for the property. In June, the land went up for sale and there was “a lot of interest,” Blair explained.

“The Midtown plan has very comprehensive goals, guidelines and development regulations for mixed use development,” Blair said. “We support the provisions, and any future development would have to be in conformance with that plan.”

The county has yet to decide if the minimum bid will remain $10 million.

Kayla J. Dunn: 425-339-3449;; Twitter: @KaylaJ_Dunn.

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