Downtown Bothell to be Vulcan-ized

  • Written by Don Mann
First McMenamin’s. Now Vulcan Real Estate. Don’t look now, but Bothell appears to be ahead of the curve as another domino has been tumbled in the city’s ambitious $150 million downtown revitalization plan. At its most recent meeting, the Bothell City Council, with a 5-2 vote, approved an $850,000 predevelopment design agreement with Vulcan Real Estate, a Paul Allen company whose resume includes the recent overhaul of over 3 million square feet in commercial and residential property in South Lake Union in Seattle.

Design plans will include a new city hall as well as a mixed-use city center block in the heart of downtown Bothell that will link new public and private development to the city’s Main Street, just steps away from a renovated Park at Bothell Landing, and a short walk from the future site of McMenamin’s, the Portland-based hotel and pub chain that bought the former Anderson school building in June with plans to convert the historic edifice to a hotel with a restaurant, pub, movie theater and spa.

For Bothell, signing on Vulcan is all about conversion.

"This is another great step forward in the revitalization of downtown Bothell," Mayor Mark Lamb said. "We have selected the ideal partner to develop a prominent gathering place in the heart of our city that will create economic opportunity and job growth for our citizens while serving as a model for sustainable development."

The vision for the city center "campus" is a state-of-the-art 60,000-square-foot city hall building, including council chambers and public meeting rooms, as well as public plazas, public art, underground parking and pedestrian corridors that connect the site to the surrounding community. The city hall will be designed to achieve LEED gold-certification standards, Lamb said.

Bothell’s current city hall, constructed in 1939, is a small building in disrepair. Several key municipal services are separated and operated from the Dawson building, adjacent to Bothell Library, because of its inadequacies.

City council meetings are presently held at the municipal court across the street.

The proposed private developments in the future city center could be comprised of a variety of potential uses that would complement the project’s public spaces and downtown community, perhaps including a mix of retail, commercial and office space totaling nearly 100,000 square feet to generate lively pedestrian activity throughout the day.

"Redeveloping the city hall block creates a critical and vibrant connection in the city’s core," City Manager Bob Stowe said. "We’re excited to work with a partner that shares in Bothell’s vision.

Through this and all our downtown projects we’re doing what it takes to make sure Bothell thrives for the next 100 years."

But Councilmember Patrick Ewing, who is not a member of the city’s economic development committee--which made the decision to choose Vulcan--wanted to know why that firm was selected over 15 other highly- qualified applicants.

Mayor Lamb, a member of the committee, said Vulcan appeared most likely to be able to work with the community and execute a vision Bothell citizens would want to adopt.

"At the end of the day we chose a team that can implement a vision that is still evolving," he said, citing Vulcan’s imagination, innovation and flexibility.

Deputy Mayor Joshua Freed said the following: "Vulcan rose to the top for one big reason and that was community. You sensed that this team had worked together and had their own community, and that was important to me."

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