Offers to buy the West Seattle Junction parking lot parcels come following near $15 million appraisal
The parcels of land that comprise the once free parking lots in the West Seattle Junction are getting purchase offers, following an appraisal of the land's value. The lots switched from free to paid in January.
The full price cash offer came from the City of Seattle through their partner Community Roots which already has the money set aside for such a purpose to develop affordable housing.
But other offers are apparently in the works which could mean development of a very different kind.
Community Roots (formerly known as Capitol Hill Housing) has management and ownership in 47 housing developments around Seattle including Unity Village in White Center, Gilman Court in Ballard and Holden Vista on Delridge Way SW.
The appraisal done by a Seattle based real estate appraisal service came up with a value for the vacant land of nearly $15,000,000.
The land is owned and controlled by West Seattle Trusteed Partners, an organization of local land and business owners who have been in charge of the land since 1954. In the most recent set of minutes from the March 11 WSTP Board meeting and the explanatory email WSTP Secretary Tyler Johnson referred to,
"an unsolicited offer that WSTP received recently concerning WSTP property.
The discussion we had today regarding the offer will be reflected in the future Minutes that will be reviewed for approval at the next Board meeting (scheduled for June 3rd).
The Board unanimously felt that we should go ahead and communicate to shareholders regarding having received the unsolicited offer. WSTP received an offer dated April 21, 2021 that is below the current Assessed Values for the WSTP parcels. Because of the ongoing need to collect additional information as part of the Board’s regular due diligence as well as the Board’s perception that other proposals and options may soon be received, the Board is not taking any action or responding to the Offer at this time. Instead the Board will seek to keep all options open as more information becomes known."
Given the delay that the WSTP board imposes on the release of the meeting minutes (typically 30 to 45 days following the meeting) an announcement of a sale might not come from them until mid July, possibly long after a potential sale is made. Real estate deals of this magnitude can however take 60 to 90 days to close following the initial offer and as the email from WSTP indicates they may have "other offers".
The WSTP has now delayed full shareholder meetings for two years, citing the pandemic.
The city does have the power of eminent domain, which could force the sale but those cases can take from 12 to 18 months to be resolved hence a sale to another buyer might happen sooner.
A sale, according to the documents attached to the appraisal would end the covenant signed with the City in 1954 to guarantee parking, thus bringing to an end the parking availability in the district, once development starts. The land is currently leased to the West Seattle Junction Association (WSJA), a Business Improvement Association, and that lease is in force for the next 17 years unless a sale takes place.
Lora Radford, Executive Director of the WSJA, said in a statement,
“The vision of the West Seattle Junction Urban Village is at a pivotal point in history. An offer to purchase the parcels within the Junction backed by another nonprofit whose entire focus is building affordable and family-forward housing poises our downtown district to accomplish housing for the greater good. This, along with community gathering spaces like a potential community center, ground floor commercial spaces that are designed to attract and incubate budding small businesses with an ownership co-op component, along with a commitment for meaningful and deep conversations during the design process, we can create together a Junction vision for community members now and future generations. It would be tragic if this full-priced offer would not be communicated to the shareholders who own the parking parcels. If we let this opportunity slip by, the lack of vision will be lost too. We may be facing the same bland buildings that maximize developer profit, but ultimately kill the neighborhoods we all cherish and love, the Junction included”.
I am the attorney who represents the Calvo Family LLC, one of the Campbell Building owners and I am polling them for input and will respond. But personally, I see no problem with a full disclosure and, if necessary, debated meeting.
The obvious question is where do they expect us to park and are you enjoying killing the small businesses because there will be no place to park????