Bothell picks Paul Allen's Vulcan for redevelopment deal
Paul Allen's Vulcan Real Estate, which spearheaded South Lake Union's transformation, is poised to play a big part in Bothell's ambitious plans to revitalize its downtown.
Seattle Times business reporter
No one is calling Bothell the next South Lake Union.
But Paul Allen's Vulcan Real Estate, which spearheaded South Lake Union's transformation, is poised to play a big part in Bothell's ambitious plans to revitalize its downtown.
City officials said Tuesday they've selected a team headed by Vulcan to redevelop a key block now dominated by Bothell's 72-year-old City Hall.
Plans call for not only a new, much larger City Hall, but also about 100,000 square feet of mixed-use commercial development. A public plaza and 300-stall underground parking garage also would be built.
Bothell wants to transform its downtown into a compact, walkable destination, to "give people a reason to come here," said Mayor Mark Lamb.
The block's redevelopment could be a catalyst, he said, because of its location between Main Street, the city's historic commercial core, and new development planned along Bothell Way Northeast.
The City Council approved an agreement Tuesday to pay Vulcan and its partners $850,000 to develop more detailed plans for the block by summer. If all goes well, a development agreement to start building could be signed later this year.
The city's timetable calls for the 60,000-square-foot City Hall, garage and other civic components of the project to be completed by June 2013.
Bothell, population 33,000, began planning its downtown revitalization six years ago. Two major road projects are under way as part of the effort. New and expanded parks are in the works.
The city also plans to offer 20 acres of downtown surplus property for sale to developers by 2013.
The deal with Vulcan is Bothell's second downtown-focused public-private partnership.
Last year it signed a contract with Portland pub and hotel chain McMenamins to convert a historic school building into a boutique hotel and entertainment complex.
"What's happening in Bothell is bold and transformational," said Rick Olson, communications director for the Puget Sound Regional Council, a four-county planning agency. "It's focusing future growth and development in a re-energized historic place."
Vulcan was one of 15 developers that expressed formal interest in the City Hall redevelopment project.
City Manager Robert Stowe and Lamb said Vulcan's track record in South Lake Union played a part in the Bothell's selection of the firm.
"Vulcan has managed to create some incredible spaces there," Lamb said.
Vulcan has developed 3.4 million square feet of commercial and residential buildings in South Lake Union over the past decade, and plans to deliver an additional 1.5 million square feet by 2013.
Its investments have lured other developers, transforming the look, feel and energy of the once-neglected neighborhood.
In Bothell, Vulcan hopes to help Bothell city officials realize their goals for downtown, said company Vice President Ada Healey.
"We think of ourselves as community-builders," she said.
Plans for commercial development on the City Hall block aren't well-defined yet. The proposal Vulcan submitted to the city late last year showed a five-story apartment building and four-story office building with ground-floor retail.
But Healey said that's "purely a concept, really just the beginning of the process."
The mix of uses, and timetable for construction, will depend on City Hall's final footprint, community input and market conditions, she said.
But there are signs the market is recovering, Healey said, and Bothell is well-positioned to take advantage of that.
City owns most of block
The city owns the entire block, with the exception of two small buildings fronting Bothell Way that Lamb said it hopes to acquire.
Parts of the block that are selected for commercial development could be sold or leased to Vulcan, said Stowe.
The block is bounded by Bothell Way, Northeast 183rd Street, 101st Avenue Northeast and Northeast 185th Street.
Vulcan's Bothell effort will be run by company veterans who supervised two prominent South Lake Union projects: part of the Amazon.com headquarters complex, and Alley 24, a residential/retail/office development across the street from the flagship REI store.
Other members of Vulcan's team include architect Miller Hull Partnership and builder GLY Construction.
The new City Hall would replace an 11,000-square-foot building constructed in 1939 that officials say the city has outgrown, and that requires major maintenance and renovations. City employees are spread among several other buildings.
Eric Pryne: 206-464-2231 or firstname.lastname@example.org