Is Town Square’s Urban Partners Becoming A “Silent Partner” To Burien?

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by Ralph Nichols

Paul Keller (pictured, left) – managing principal of Urban Partners, the private developer for Burien’s Town Square – has virtually disappeared from view.

Keller has all but stopped communicating with city officials about short-term plans and long-range alternatives that Los Angeles-based Urban Partners may have for Town Square.

This lack of information leaves local interests in limbo – even as the firm lists for sale two undeveloped parcels that it owns there, and negotiates with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. for a restructured construction loan for its condominium/retail complex that opened last June.

In the meantime, the Urban Partners principal who maintained a public profile in Burien during the planning and first phase construction of Town Square, including frequent contact with both city officials and reporters, has left the firm.

A founding member of Urban Partners, Dan Rosenfeld is now senior deputy to LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

Dan Rosenfeld has been hired as senior deputy to Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. Rosenfeld is responsible for economic development, land use, sustainability and transportation issues.

It was Rosenfeld’s personal interest and connections in the Northwest that helped him sell the Burien City Council on the Urban Partners at the inception of the Town Square project. Locally he was also involved in the redevelopment of Burien Plaza.

According to a news release from Ridley-Thomas’ office:

“Rosenfeld has alternated in his career between public and private-sector service, working previously as Director of Real Estate for the State of California and City of Los Angeles.”

As Burien Town Square sits languishing, developer Urban Partners has all but stopped communicating with the city or potential customers.

A founding member of Urban Partners, he also was a senior officer with The Cadillac Fairview Corporation, Tishman-Speyer Properties, Kilroy Industries and Jones Lang LaSalle.

The Los Angeles Times noted that his particular emphasis at Urban Partners was “on public sector relationships, design, marketing and activities in the Pacific Northwest.”

It seems by no means certain, given the lack of information from Urban Partners and the attempt to sell some of its Town Square property, that the firm will continue to have an ongoing interest in this region.

Regardless of what happens with private development in Town Square, City Manager Mike Martin emphasized earlier this week that Burien will lose no money even if Urban Partners’ venture should fail.

Urban Partners' Paul Keller apparently refuses to comment. Or communicate.

The city has no financial interest in either the condo/retail complex or the undeveloped land parcels, which are owned by Urban Partners, Martin noted.

And Dick Loman, Burien’s economic development manager, said a new buyer of the undeveloped land would be obligated legally to conform to the agreement for Town Square development that Urban Partners signed with the city.


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2 Responses to “Is Town Square’s Urban Partners Becoming A “Silent Partner” To Burien?”
  1. Coverofnight says:

    Doesn’t surprise me that, in this economy, these individuals aren’t responding to inquiries. I see similar actions in my business, too. Things happen; change happens….we’ll just have to wait and see how it all plays out with the financial institutions. Like I’ve said before, don’t be surprised if everyone sits tight for awhile until market conditions change so nobody will lose money. Let’s just hope that we don’t start looking like Detroit with all these vacant storefronts.

  2. Sleepy says:

    While it may be true that we have no capital at stake in this, it is not true to claim that Burien is not and will not loose money on this. We’ve got dozens of retail spaces sitting vacant. These are spaces that should, and apparently could, be filled with businesses . Businesses that will sell things. Businesses that will generate tax revenue for the city. Taxes that we’re going to have to make up in other ways, unless we want services cut.

    The people behind this should be fired. The people replacing them need to have a fire lit to get this BS straightened out and those buildings occupied.

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