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August 20, 2020
A polluted Arco station at 8009 164th Ave. N.E. in downtown Redmond last traded in 2009 for $1.1 million to a local gas station operator. The station closed several years ago, state-required cleanup has now been completed, and two prospective out-of-town buyers have filed plans to redevelop the site with a new apartment building.
Chicago-based architect Solomon Cordwell Buenz, which in January opened a Seattle office, will brief the city design review board today in a virtual presentation for the unnamed project. The basic plan is an eight-story building with 214 apartments and about 4,400 square feet of retail/commercial space.
The nearly 1-acre site at the corner of Northeast 80th Street is about a seven-minute walk south to the future Downtown Redmond Station, where light-rail service will begin in 2024. The seller's broker is unknown, and the property isn't publicly listed. The county assesses it at about $5 million.
The potential buyers would both be new to our market: White Oak Realty Partners of Chicago and Ponsky Capital Partners of Cleveland. Both the privately held firms have multifamily experience in other markets. Ponsky lists eight midrise projects in Ohio and Arizona. White Oak lists about nine projects in varying stages of development — some multifamily, some office and some high rise. Most are joint ventures and partnerships. All are in the Midwest.
SCB estimates the Redmond project size above grade to be around 283,300 square feet. That includes, within the C-shaped building, a south-facing terraced courtyard — the building's most dramatic architectural feature, dubbed “the Cascades.” Set above street level, it would step down from the fourth to second floors with wooden bench seating and landscaped gathering areas.
SCB says the building draws inspiration from the Nokomis Club, which was formed by seven Redmond women in 1909 as a book club; that in turn led to the establishment of the city's first library in 1927. Nokomis was the wise grandmother in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's “The Song of Hiawatha,” a staple of 19th-century American literature. The club reportedly still meets.
The original Nokomis building, developed in 1933, was demolished on a nearby site to the west in 2016; it served as the city library into the 1960s. That property is now home to the five-story 162Ten apartments, which were completed circa 2017.
SCB says, “Inspired by the Nokomis Club, this project seeks to honor the history of our site. The community room at the ground floor is open to all, and can continue the work of Nokomis. Additionally the exterior design is inspired by one of their landmark achievements, Redmond's first public library.”
SCB says the building facade is meant to suggest book shelving, with spines of varying, undulating height — almost like waves. Some units would have balconies, and 21 would be affordable, based on area median income. Units would be mostly one- and two-bedrooms, but also with some studios.
The community room on 80th would have 2,600 square feet. The inset 5,500-square-foot “WiFi Plaza” on the building's southeast corner would also be open to the public. The retail would face 164th, with a fenced, open-air dog park — also open to the public — on the building's northeast corner.
There would be 236 parking stalls on three structured levels and one below grade. The garage entry would be on the north side of the building, on Northeast 81st Street. Residents would also have 214 bike stalls.
The team includes civil engineer KPFF and landscape architect Berger Partnership. SCB's most notable local project is the 27-story First Hill condominium planned on the Trinity church block, which hasn't yet broken ground.
Back on the Redmond site, leaking underground fuel tanks were removed in 1991 and again in 2018, followed by remediation led by Arcadis on behalf of the owner. The gas station and mini mart were demolished circa 2015. The state Department of Ecology issued a no further action determination in August of last year.
Public records from June indicate a forced trustee sale, following a $3 million loan in 2018 from private lenders in California and Oregon to the Arco station owner.
Brian Miller can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (206) 219-6517.