by Ralph Nichols Almost five years after the first privately developed Burien Town Square project â€“ the seven-story condominium-retail complex at SW 152nd St. and 6th Ave. SW â€“ was completed, plans for Phase Two are finally moving forward. Conceptual plans for two separate projects â€“ one for small higher-end apartments with limited ground-floor retail, the other a senior housing development â€“ were presented to Burien City Council members at their Feb. 3 meeting. Legacy Partners, which assumed ownership of the still-vacant Town Square property last year, and Pillar will jointly develop both complexes, with construction anticipated to begin this August. Town Center Apartments, which will cater to young professionals, will have 227 living units plus 273 parking spaces, will be constructed north of the existing condo-retail complex. Merrill Gardens at Burien for independent senior living will be located north of the Burien Library/City Hall, with 111 living units plus 72 parking spaces. The senior complex will include an amphitheater that will have public access. Phase One of the Town Square development opened with great promise when the library/city hall and the condo-retail complex with 124 units were completed in June 2009. But then the housing market collapsed nationwide and the recession set in. Later that year, Corus Bank, which held the construction loan for Urban Partners, the private developer for Town Square, was closed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Ownership of the condo-retail complex was eventually assumed by a consortium of investors including the FDIC. Urban Partners, which later merged to form Harbor Urban, continued to own the two undeveloped Town Square parcels. But by late 2012, when no progress had yet been made on the next Town Square project, the Burien council took steps to find a new developer. By that time, Harbor Urban was more than a year in default of its original development agreement with the city, which said work on a second private Town Square project would begin within two years after completion of Phase One. After exercising its buy-back option under that agreement, the city eventually sold the vacant properties to Legacy. Although more condominiums and retail had been projected for the other two large parcels, it was determined that the housing market would not support them for the foreseeable future. With that the city council began considering upper end apartments, which had been one of the development options when Town Square being planned in 2004-05. Here are some renderings that were presented at the council meeting (click images to see larger versions/slideshow): ]]>
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