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City hires new brokers for North Kelsey as cutoff to repay $4 mil debt lurks

A map of North Kelsey’s parcels still for sale by the city, marked in red.

MONROE — A new real estate broker will be working to sell the remaining parcels at North Kelsey. An exclusive deal with a team from Lee & Associates and Westcoast Commercial,
both Seattle firms, was approved by the City Council last week. 
The city’s agreement with its prior broker expired in September.
The last major deal at North Kelsey was in 2009* for the Monroe Walmart.
The brokers will be marketing 11 remaining parcels: One large parcel near Galaxy Theatres, a one-acre parcel near Walmart and some open land spots along Tjerne Place, including in front of Lowe’s. 
The city seriously wants the land sold in part because it took on debt to buy the land almost 15 years ago: The city has $4.1 million in bond debt remaining that will be due in 2020.
One chunk of that $4.1 million, amounting to $1.3 million, will be due in September. The city has this covered with money saved up from selling off land, but last year it also transferred $170,000 from the city budget to cover the debt.
A conversation last month discussed the “what if” if the land doesn’t sell by the time the remaining $2.7 million debt is due. The options are to raise property taxes, impose additional utility taxes, or simply eat it out of the city budget. 
The city has steadily cut down its debt through land sales. It initially
took out $11 million in bonds in 2010 to pay off the bank loan it took out to buy the North Kelsey area. It subsequently refinanced in 2012 and 2015 after a few land sales reduced the total debt.
The broker team hired last week sees promise in the North Kelsey area. 
Marketer Tiffini Connell, a managing broker with Westcoast Commercial, is connected with national chain stores. Richard Peterson, a Lee executive, told the City Council that “it’s a good property in a good economy.”
In addition, the city last week commissioned refreshed marketing materials for the site for $10,000; last month it hired a land appraisal service. 
All the properties for sale are zoned General Commercial, and most of the lots are subject to regulations that limit the property to retail stores. Those regulations were part of getting Lowe’s when it came to Monroe in 2008; the city lost out to getting a Home Depot, which Snohomish Station snagged around the same time.
Monroe bought the North Kelsey acreage around 14 years ago to prevent a casino from going in, a debated move that uniquely plopped the city into the land
selling business. The large land buy included where Lowe’s, Walmart and the Galaxy 12 movie theatre are today.
Before the Recession crashed reality, the city envisioned a walkable town shopping center with small business
storefronts and greenspace. The open-market concept was tossed out and plans morphed to big-box stores under former Mayor Robert Zimmerman. Former Mayor Donnetta Walser helped usher in the Walmart in conjunction with developer Sabey Corp. in a $7.3 million land sale; the Walmart opened in 2014 and was the last major new building at North Kelsey.


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