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Snohomish Avenue D public works yard has potential buyer

SNOHOMISH — The county has a purchase-and-sale agreement with a prospective buyer for the former public works yard on Avenue D opposite
13th Street, one of the largest redevelopable properties available in town.
“We are unable to disclose further details at this time due to a confidentiality clause in the purchase and sale agreement,” the property’s caretaker in county public works, Randy Blair, said through the public works office.
The city said a smaller portion of approximately 0.79 acres of the site is currently on the market for low-income housing. Bids for it are due Oct. 2.
The buyer of the big parcel might be from a pool of developers who tend to build multi-family and mixed-use projects that feature commercial on the bottom and residential units above.
The big, vacant lot along Avenue D has 8.6 acres of developable land, and is 9.4 acres total. Old concept sketches commissioned by the county envision a set of multifamily or mixed-use buildings.
The county placed no pre-set conditions to buyers about how the site should be developed because the city’s zoning guidelines are clear, Blair has said previously.
It’s in the Midtown District, a special development zone along north Avenue D that’s geared for density. The zone allows buildings up to 55 feet, which is enough height to build five stories tall.
Midtown’s guidelines are geared for turning Avenue D into a walkable, urban area as the corridor redevelops; the guidelines require buildings to be placed close to sidewalks, and parking lots are in the back, for example.
The Avenue D yard was offered for sale with no minimum price.
“Snohomish County secured the prospective buyer earlier this year and a minimum price was not a component of the solicitation,” Blair said in a statement.
Last year, the county sought bidders for the property and put on a $10 million minimum purchase price, but had zero qualified bidders at the time of its bid deadline.
There were a few interested potential buyers, though, who didn’t bid because they wanted more time to decide.
In January, the county made a new solicitation to a group of potential buyers who had expressed interest in the property plus others who do multifamily and mixed-use projects, county public works director Kelly Snyder told an area resident by email.
The site was the county’s road maintenance and shop facility from the 1930s until 2008 when the county relocated these operations to Cathcart. The site went through years of ground contamination cleanup work to become ready for sale. The longstanding plan has been to use the sale money to go toward redeveloping the county’s road maintenance site in Arlington.
In 2020, the city convened a task force to shape the Midtown District specifically with future development of the Avenue D yard in mind.

Update in the Oct. 11, 2023 Tribune :
Small section of Ave. D ex-public works yard going back out for more bids

SNOHOMISH ­— The county has put a 0.79-acre section of the Avenue D former public works yard back out to bid after not finding a satisfactory bidder last week.
This portion of the Avenue D yard is on the market for creating low-income housing.
The county has had a purchase-and-sale agreement with a prospective buyer for a much larger chunk of the former public works yard. The yard is on Avenue D opposite 13th Street. — Michael Whitney



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