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by Jack Mayne That vacant land north of Burien City Hall and south of SW 150th Street will soon be humming with construction noise, digging equipment, and arriving heavy trucks as two long-planned projects appear about ready to get underway. “We did issue permits for the Merrill Gardens project just to the north of us here today (Monday, May 18), so we are looking to see next steps here,” said City Manager Kamuron Gurol at Monday night’s regular Council session. A Merrill Gardens spokesperson told The B-Town Blog on Tuesday that the construction would start in June. Once the two projects get going, it will be “a pretty busy time out here” as Gurol gestured to the area north of the City Hall. No more parking “As you know for some time we had informal parking on one of those two sites,” Gurol said. “That’s now precluded with the fence that is up. It will start to become a little noisy and there will be truck traffic.” Both the delayed projects will be built at the same time, he said. “To get new development we sometimes have to get some challenging times,” Gurol said. “We are going to stay in touch with the folks in the condos right next door since they have a direct line of sight on that and will have a lot of those impacts along with other local businesses and residents. We will try to do our best to respond to concerns. But new development will be taking place just north of City Hall.” The Burien Town Square project – a seven-story condominium and retail complex at SW 152nd Street and 6th Ave. SW – was completed six years ago, but plans for Phase Two were long held due to financial problems and the stalled economy. Both of the new projects are being developed in partnership with Legacy Partners. No activity until June Construction will begin June 2 on the eastern most plot, said Merrill spokesperson Loree Wagner, with preparations for construction of Merrill Gardens at Burien now underway. Burien Economic Development Manager Dan Trimble said in an email that Merrill got project permits but haven’t had a city required pre-construction meeting. “We don’t expect activity to begin until after May 29th,” Trimble said. “We are working with them on an announcement and planning a ground breaking. Wagner said they expect an official groundbreaking ceremony on June 25. “The four story community will have a total of 126 senior apartments and 70 parking spaces,” she said. “It will also have a public plaza adjacent to the community that will be landscaped and include walkways and benches for all to enjoy.” The contractor for Merrill Gardens at Burien is W.G. Clark. The company is still working on construction design details for the second building that will be multifamily apartments and should have a schedule soon. It will be a six-story building with a mezzanine and there will be 228 apartments and 248 parking spaces. Family companies Privately-owned family companies Merrill Gardens and Pillar Properties are sister companies, both owned by the R.D. Merrill Company. Pillar Properties develops, owns and manages multifamily properties in the Puget Sound area whose apartment properties are The Lyric in Capitol Hill, The Century in downtown Seattle, The Corydon in the University District and the Stadium Place development which has two apartment buildings, The Wave and The Nolo, in Pioneer Square. Pillar Properties also does the development for sister company Merrill Gardens. Merrill Gardens says it has been a leader in senior housing for 23 years and has 27 communities in six states with 10 new communities in development, including Merrill Gardens at Burien. Opened in 2009 Phase One of the Town Square development opened in 2009 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. A consortium of investors including the FDIC eventually assumed Corus Bank, which held the construction loan for Urban Partners, the private developer for Town Square. The FDIC then assumed ownership of the condo-retail complex. 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.]]>