City seeks $1 million reimbursement from developer of wine village

  • Written by Briana Gerdeman, Contributing Writer

WOODINVILLE — The Woodinville City Council will appeal a court ruling that declared the developer of Woodinville Village mixed-use wine development does not have to pay the city back for $1 million of road improvements.

The project, which will feature villas, several local wineries, restaurants, a hotel and shops, began development in the early 2000s. After the original developer, MJR Development, faced financial troubles, a new developer, Legacy Commercial, bought the note.

The City of Woodinville agreed to work with Woodinville Village Associates (part of MJR Development) to build three roundabouts on SR 202 bordering WVA’s property, according to a press release from the City of Woodinville, and WVA agreed to reimburse Woodinville for the cost of frontage improvements on the road. When WVA went into debt, Woodinville obtained a court judgment ordering WVA to pay $1 million.
Now, the city of Woodinville has filed an appeal challenging the King County Superior Court’s decision that Legacy Commercial does not have to pay for the roundabouts and other frontage improvements to the curbs, gutters, sidewalks and lighting.

“I hope it’s something that we can resolve amicably,” City Councilmember Liz Aspen said. “...It is a great project and we all want to see it happen.”

She explained that the city had already planned to build two roundabouts in that area. The Woodinville Village development required a third roundabout. It was cheaper to build all three roundabouts at the same time, so the city built them all with the expectation that the developers would pay the city back.

Although he said “the city of Woodinville has to do what they think is right to do,” Walter Scott of Legacy Commercial said the appeal is “unfortunate from the standpoint that we consider it a waste of resources. It’s going to delay our project.”

He also pointed out that the amount of money Woodinville Village will bring in from sales tax and permit fees is “way in excess of the amounts being argued about.”

He said WVA – not Legacy Commercial – agreed to the $1 million cost for the frontage improvements. Legacy Commercial acknowledges it needs to pay the city for the improvements, but it disputes how much it owes to the city.

“When we bought the property, we knew that the exact amount was in question,” he said. “...We definitely think it should be a lower amount.”
The appeal process will take about 18 months, Scott said, and Legacy Commercial likely won’t proceed with development until the lawsuit is over. He believes the Court of Appeals’ ruling will be the same as the original decision.

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