Monroe wants to edit covenants it has with Lowe’s which bar certain developments in North Kelsey

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MONROE — The city wants to chat with Lowe’s about amending covenants it agreed to years ago that restrict what can be built in the North Kelsey area.
But first, it wants to show what Lowe’s could gain. In February, the council authorized spending $15,000 to hire an architect firm and a “place-making” company to sketch designs similar to an “urban village” concept for the North Kelsey land the city still owns.
The idea is to show Lowe’s that mixed-use development can benefit them by bringing shoppers to them
A quick history lesson might be needed.
Practically 20 years ago, a past City Council authorized buying hundreds of acres from the county that make up the North Kelsey area, and took the role of selling the land parcels itself.
The Walmart and Lowe’s have been the biggest North Kelsey land sales.
About 18 years ago, to entice Lowe’s into the North Kelsey area, the City Council agreed to conditions Lowe’s asked for that limit what can be built. These include only allowing single-story, retail-only uses nearby, with no multistory buildings, according to a Feb. 27 memo. The covenants also prevent stores selling alcohol from moving in nearby. That meant no nightclubs, bars or restaurants. The alcohol issue scuttled two attempts around 2010 to bring in a bowling alley and fun center by two different companies.
Monroe now wants to re-engage Lowe’s to amend the purchase-and-sale agreement to pull back some of the conditions to allow potential redevelopment flourish in North Kelsey that could include mixed-use residential-commercial buildings, lodging or other types of dense development.
Lowe’s built its 22-acre store site at the cost of roughly $5.9 million in 2008 dollars ($8.5 million today).
Competitor Home Depot sniffed the area but instead built its store in Snohomish at the then-brand-new Snohomish Station development.
Monroe officials had agreed to share development costs with Lowe’s as a development incentive. But Lowe’s pushed to have its store open earlier than expected and incurred higher-than-predicted construction costs, and the city was originally hooked for $3.6 million extra which it rebuffed paying. The city ended up paying $2.3 million to Lowe’s as part of a settlement.
      — Story includes Tribune archives