Urban Partners Wants More Time To Start New Town Square Development

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by Ralph Nichols

Two years ago this month, everything was coming up roses at Burien’s new Town Square.

Community celebrations heralded grand openings of the Burien City Hall/King County Library building and a condominium/retail complex, and the downtown park between these two facilities began attracting people and events.

When the condo/retail complex – built by Urban Partners, the city’s private developer for this visionary project – was certified for occupancy on July 21, 2009, the clock started ticking. Urban Partners had two years to begin construction of a second mixed-use facility in Town Square.

But through circumstances beyond its control, which stemmed from the onset of the recession in 2008, Urban Partners no longer owns its first Town Square building.

And with less than two months remaining before the construction-startup deadline, Urban Partners still has no plans for a second development.

Dick Loman, Burien’s economic development manager, told The B-Town Blog on June 1 that Urban Partners has asked the city for an extension of time to begin construction of the next Town Square building.

“We [city staff] have it under advisement,” Loman said. “We want some assurance that they will continue their investment in Town Square … Staff is not ready to present it to the City Council at this point, but we hope to very shortly have an extension request for them to consider.”

Urban Partners “remains committed to our investment in Town Square with a ground up development” in the future, principal Paul Keller said in a phone interview.

They have asked for a three-year deadline extension and meet regularly with city officials, Keller noted. “As the economy continues to heal, we are optimistic that at some point in time we will be able to move forward” with the second private development.

While city hall and the library are constantly busy, and the park draws public activities like Burien Farmers Market, only six condos have been sold.

ST Residential, the investment group that now owns the condo/retail complex, has yet to make known its plans for the remaining residential units and commercial space. However, an announcement is expected in the next few weeks.

Corus Bank, which held Urban Partners’ Town Square construction loan, was closed by the FDIC in September 2009. ST Residential, a consortium of private investors and the FDIC, gained control the property a few months later.

Meanwhile, Urban Partners has placed on the market the vacant Town Square parcel north of the condo/retail complex – one of three undeveloped parcels it still owns – currently advertised on Craigslist by Leibsohn & Company Commercial Real Estate Services:

Its other two parcels are the old city hall building north of the new city hall and library, and a narrow property east of the post office between S. 150th and S. 151st streets.

Loman also reconfirmed that a proposal to build a 10-screen multiplex cinema – once considered as an alternative to a second Town Square condo/retail complex – “is no longer on the table.”

Here’s more from Liebsohn’s Executive Summary on the property (download the PDF here), which lists the price at $1,875,000.00:

The two parcels available make up the undeveloped portion of the Burien Town Square. The larger parcel is 1.72 Acre lot is zoned downtown commercial (DC). Per an executed development agreement with the City of Burien this parcel can be developed as a 7 story, 286,600 Square Foot mixed-use building consisting of approximately 142 residential units, 20,000 Square Feet of retail, and 258 parking stalls. The second parcel is a 0.32 Acre lot which is also zoned downtown commercial (DC). Per an executed development agreement with the City of Burien this parcel can be developed as a 3 story, 20,000 Square Foot residential town home project consisting 11 residential units, and 22 under unit parking stalls.

The City of Burien’s agressive plan for growth and modernization centers on it’s downtown, where Burien Town Square is located. The civic plaza has ushered in a new King County Library and City Hall, along with retail and restaurant space, a one-acre park and residential condos. The city also plans a new, state-of-the-art transit center and upscale hotel nearby. All told, the more than $200 million in public and private funds have been spent on road and infrastruc- ture improvements.

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20 Responses to “Urban Partners Wants More Time To Start New Town Square Development”
  1. Karl Hansen says:

    Let’s seize the chance to build a movie theater complex. This will draw people from Federal Way to Seattle.

  2. Dale says:

    I would rather have a WalMart.

  3. neighborhood guy says:

    Neither, thank you very much!

  4. Cowboy Bob says:

    How about a Meal Makers Restaurant?

  5. Eaton B. Verz says:

    Strip club, discount liquor store, gun shop with indoor range, sewage treatment plant…fit right in with city hall…

  6. 3TreeCellars says:

    What I wouldn’t give for a McLendons…

  7. J says:

    I would LOVE a Winco in the area! Grocery stores are way too expensive around here!

  8. Dale says:

    3Tree, there is a dandy McLendons in White Center and I assume that White Center will soon be part of Burien. For sure dandy service and lots of choices at McLendons but prices are often lower at Freddies. And a WalMart at the site of the former Bernie & Boys store would be mighty convenient to my neck of the woods.

  9. joan m johnson says:

    The condo situation is quite frustrating. I was pretty interested in the concept, but when they were built with questionable construction, small, no gas, no fireplaces I didn’t even bother looking at them. They were priced unreasonably high with no amenities, except a well loitered library. No thanks!

  10. Eaton B. Verz says:

    Turn the condos into a jail. Put them to good use.

  11. big Nate says:

    By and large, everything a person would need to maintain a househole, can be found right here in Burien. If you need something that is not available here, that just means this area can’t support it. Think of the last time you had to travel to obtain goods and services that was not available here. Nort Highline, White Center and Burien has it all.

  12. TAY says:

    It’s built and ready for people to move into. The city needs to stipulate that ST Residential and Urban Partners get their butts in gear and either start selling the condo’s at Burien prices or turn it into apartments. Either way, that will get 124 units filled with people who can help support our present buisness’s.

  13. Rob says:

    How about some AFFORDABLE housing? Thoae condos cost too much for what you get.

  14. Mindy Maxwell says:

    There is a movie theater in Fed Way, 2 in South center, 2 in Renton, 1 in Des Moines, and the small cinema in DT Burien; I don’t believe that another movie cinema in Burien would be sustainable. Please not a Wal-Mart for heaven’s sake. One thing to consider is the roadways in Burien cannot handle a lot of traffic efficiently and how congestion would that impact the liveablity of Burien. Take for example the Trader Joes/Albertson’s traffic. The cars pile up down the 160th off ramp with the people turning into the shopping center and that is an intersection that was renovated. I don’t want this everywhere I drive in Burien.

  15. baldguy says:

    Since the Town Square site used to house Lamont’s/Gottschalk’s, what about putting in a Kohl’s or a Target? I know there is a Kohl’s on Southcenter Parkway, but Target has some stores close together, so maybe Kohl’s would be open to that? Besides, Kohl’s at Town Square could attract from West Seattle.

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