Northwest NEWS

January 28, 2002

Front Page

Deep-pocketed backer walks away from LakePointe development

by Jeanette Knutson
   Staff Writer
   Kenmore's LakePointe mixed-use development, the long-held dream that was to have transformed unusable waterfront into a vibrant city center, is on hold.
   The project is slated to be built on approximately 45 acres on the north end of Lake Washington where the Sammamish River enters the lake. Conceptually, it is to include up to 350,000 square feet of office space; 300,000 square feet of retail/commercial space (including cinemas and hotel); 1,200 residential units (including rentals and condominiums); a marina and 4,200 underground parking spaces - all to be constructed in phases.
   But earlier this month, the local property owner, Pioneer Towing, announced that the development partnership it formed with Triple Five Group, an Edmonton, Alberta-based company, had dissolved.
   Apparently Triple Five, financial backers of colossal projects such as Minnesota's Mall of America and the West Edmonton Mall, decided to bow out of the arrangement because the current economic climate was not conducive to raising money for the project.
   "This project is upwards of $500 million," said Bob Sokol, Kenmore's community development services director. "It's difficult for one entity to move forward with a project of that magnitude. The property ownership needs to find a new partner (in order for the enterprise to proceed).
   "It's nothing more than a reflection of the current economic times, which are way different today than they were a year ago, and even more different (today) than in 1996 when the developers originally began applying for permits," said Mr. Sokol.
   According to the city, in August 2001, the Washington State Department of Ecology issued a consent decree regarding cleanup of the materials and residues left on the site as part of its past industrial uses. The consent decree spelled out the actions that the developer must take to ensure public health and safety at the site. With the issuance of the consent decree, city officials said, all of the site development permits necessary to develop the project have been secured by the property owner.
   The owner is still committed to completing the project, a city of Kenmore Web site said, but plans are on hold until a suitable development partner can be found.
   An official from Pioneer Towing could not be reached for comment.