No appeals of Old Milltown plan

  • Sue Waldburger<br>Enterprise writer
  • Monday, March 3, 2008 12:00pm

At 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 23, developer Bob Gregg was able to breathe a sigh of relief.

That hour marked the deadline for appeals of the Edmonds Architectural Design Board’s — or ADB’s — approval of Gregg’s latest plan to renovate Old Milltown shopping center. Since none were received at City Hall, the plan may proceed once the proper permits are in hand.

Gregg had to wait out a 14-day appeal period following the ADB’s Feb. 7 vote to approve a more modest plan for improving the 107-year-old building that has undergone multiple renovations over the years yet has fallen into disrepair. ADB approval of an earlier and more ambitious plan was appealed by a resident and that appeal was upheld by the Edmonds City Council.

The only significant change in the latest version is that the northeast corner of the building facing Dayton Street will be left as is.

A demolition permit for the project was expected to be issued soon, according to senior city planner Steve Bullock. Gregg will have to file for a new building permit or revise his existing one to reflect the approved design, he said.

Gregg planned to discuss with city officials this week to what extent the work will block sidewalks. A disruption fee and right-of-way permit likely will be required.

Gregg said he expected the contractor, Belfor Construction, to move a mobile office trailer to the upper parking lot this week. Belfor also is building Gregg’s new condominium complex, The Gregory, just south of Old Milltown.

Construction should take “about eight months, plus or minus,” Gregg said of Old Milltown. He plans to remove the staircases, separate the two floors with a 15-foot ceiling, turn the upstairs into leased office space and carve out spaces for three tenants on the bottom floor. A set-back balcony overlooking Fifth Avenue is planned.

The public should see little disruption, except for trucks coming and going, Gregg said.

Provinces Asian Restaurant and Bar is the only business remaining in the section slated for remodeling. It will close for the duration of construction beginning tomorrow, March 3.

Provinces owner Rachel Yuan said she expects to return to Old Milltown — either back upstairs or in a new space on the ground floor. But a lot could happen in the intervening months. “I have to start over again, so I don’t know what will happen,” she said.

Yuan said she normally ran Provinces, which has leased space in Old Milltown for 18 years, with a staff of 15. But with employees finding other jobs and leaving, she recently has struggled to remain open for business with seven workers.

Her current lease — which runs until September 2009 — will continue payment-free through construction, she said.

Tenants along the boardwalk on the Fifth Avenue side will not be displaced. Gregg said he hopes the food shops will see increased business from construction workers. “The hair and nails shops, well, I don’t know,” he joked.

In the wake of the council’s split vote to uphold the resident’s appeal, Gregg filed an appeal of the decision in Snohomish County Superior Court. He has asked for monetary damages. Gregg also submitted a claim for damages which has been sent to the city’s insurance company.

Those actions will be allowed to “run their course,” Gregg said when asked if he would drop them in light of the apparent go-ahead for his latest plan.

When pressed as to what would have to occur for him to drop his actions against the city, Gregg said it would have to be adoption of development-related codes that could be “clearly understood by the development community, citizenry, council, everybody. All sides would have to be able to read it and say, ‘Oh, that’s what you mean.’ If we — and that’s the big royal ‘we’ — got that, that would be enough.”

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