Because the city and Kenmore Camera, a well-established institution and a linchpin to the business community, last week made a deal that should have positive long-term ramifications.
Kenmore’s city council approved a purchase-and-sale agreement with Kenmore Camera owners Jim and Martha Donovan for a portion of the Kenmore property which has been owned by the city since 2003.
The property sale will close following a 90-day feasibility and due diligence period, when all the legal dots will be completed.
So Kenmore is selling a 54,000 square foot piece of property (1.24 acres) which includes a 17,000- square-foot building formerly occupied by Grocery Outlet. The price is $1,250,000.
Through a boundary line adjustment, the city will retain 15,000 square feet of frontage on NE 181st Street from the original parcel: the camera shop will need ample parking.
Kenmore Camera, a family owned business based in Kenmore since 1974, is a premier provider of photographic equipment and services. They are renowned for their extensive training for beginners and professionals alike, and the expanded facility will allow them to have many of their events in downtown Kenmore. The move will provide more than triple the space of the current store, which is just across the street on NE 181st from the current location.
Said owner Jim Donovan: “ Kenmore has always been a great place to be in business and we’ve outgrown the present location. The move to Kenmore Village is going to be the perfect move for us both in size and location. We will be able to have everything under one roof including classrooms and storage. It couldn’t be better.”
Kenmore’s city council sees this agreement as an important step in downtown redevelopment, supporting the expansion of a strong local business.
Said Kenmore Mayor David Baker: “ We welcome this investment because it will benefit downtown redevelopment goals which have been the focus of community interest and discussion over many years — and it ensures the long-term presence of an important Kenmore business.”
Said Bob Donovan, the elder son of Jim and Martha, and who runs the day-to-day operations: “We’re looking forward to the move. The architects’ work is 99 percent done (at the new building) and we’ll go to permit shortly. We have 60 days of ‘due diligence’ and ideally we’ll open up over there in February or March. Everything will happen pretty fast.”
He said his father established the store at its present location in the early 80s, but couldn’t remember precisely when.
“This was the old fire station back then,” he said. “You may notice that the building slopes down hill, because they wanted the water to go away.”
He added: “ We’ve grown a little bit over the years and we’ll surely fill up that new space.”
He said they were pretty excited about “a big jump up” in terms of space, which is three times the size of the current location.
“We can now bring in national speakers to classrooms and have a much larger presence in the photo community,” he said. “Right now we’re packed in here pretty tight.”