For the last several months, the City of Kenmore has been working with Weidner Apartment Homes to draft a Parameter Agreement that would outline a range of development options to study and explore the future development of Lakepointe, a 50+ acre industrial and largely vacant property on the Lake Washington peninsula southwest of the SR 522/68th Ave NE intersection. On November 1st, Weidner notified the City of Kenmore they have suspended discussions on the Parameter Agreement and subsequent Development Agreement process.
In the 1950’s and 1960’s, the property was filled with construction demolition debris during the I-5 highway installation. Due to extraordinary site development and other challenges (e.g. traffic mitigation), this project is complex and we’ve always known the initial investment would be costly.
Despite its challenges, the Lakepointe project has the potential to restore river habitat and open up public access where Lake Washington and the Sammamish River converge. The project also has the potential to transform the undeveloped industrial site by way of new economic investment, employment, retail, and other public amenities.
“Lakepointe is the last undeveloped property of its kind and size on Lake Washington, and we recognize its significant potential to bring new employment, retail, recreation, environmental restoration, housing choices, and other benefits to the community,” stated Rob Karlinsey, Kenmore City Manager. “With Lakepointe, we have the potential to create a very special place that is uniquely situated on the lake, river, and part of our downtown.”
This year, for the first time in the property’s history, Kenmore commissioned a comprehensive financial feasibility analysis which detailed a financial gap of around $155M for the estimated $1 - $1.5B project. A financial gap of this size likely requires a public-private partnership, which can take the form of multi-family housing property tax exemptions, regulatory flexibility, impact fee credits for infrastructure built by the developer, or financial help (e.g. grants) from the state to build public infrastructure. These tools and incentives are well established and have been used in other cities across the state and country. In fact, Kenmore has successfully utilized several of these tools to attract new investment and revitalize its downtown.
In return for using these tools and incentives at Lakepointe, the public would see public access to the water, parks, wildlife habitat restoration along the river, more housing choices (including affordable housing units), shopping, restaurants, office space for local job growth, and other amenities.
“We appreciate Weidner’s time and resources that they have put into exploring Lakepointe’s development potential,” said Mr. Karlinsey. “Mr. Weidner and his team have been fantastic to work with and have provided valuable and practical insight and perspective. We know a lot more about what it’s going to take for a successful Lakepointe development to happen.”
Although formal negotiations have been suspended, Kenmore plans to continue dialogue with the community, the Lakepointe property owner, and others to evaluate public-private partnership scenarios. Kenmore will also consider innovative approaches that could work for the property owner, developers, and the community.