Decision coming soon on big retail store in Sequim

By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News

SEQUIM — Word is expected this month on whether a Bellevue developer will be submitting preliminary plans for a large retail store at Sequim Avenue and U.S. Highway 101.

But the identity of the “big box” store that may build at the strategic highway interchange still is unconfirmed.

City officials were copied on a Dec. 17 email from property co-owner Fred McConkey to fellow co-owner Mark Burrowes that indicated that a corporate decision is imminent on a 75-acre parcel also known as the Burrowes property, City Manager Steve Burkett said.

The email’s key information was that McConkey and Burrowes are expecting a decision “right after the first of the year,” Burkett said, quoting a phrase from the email.

“We were anticipating something by the end of [2012], but that’s not going to happen,” Burkett added.

“Hopefully, it will be a decision that they will come in and make an application for a project,” he said.

Peter Powell, owner of Powell Development Co. in Bellevue, “has a tenant in mind” that McConkey would not identify in a telephone interview.

A big-box chain is considering building several stores nationwide, McConkey said, indicating that the chain offers “good value” to a population “looking to save money.”

The company has done a “numbers study” that has indicated the store could be profitable in Sequim, he said.

Funding for construction could be allocated this year and the store built in 2014, McConkey said.

“They looked at how well they feel their store and product would be received in the market by the demographics of people there, and they think it lines up very well,” McConkey said.

“It’s a retiring population that is looking to save money and get a good value, and they want a good product and a better image than what is offered by the competition there,” he said.

“They feel like there is a good match-up on the demographics for what they offer.”

The company will review plans for the site this month before a corporate capital committee that will decide on proposals for building about 10 stores in the U.S., including the store that may go on the Burrowes property, McConkey said.

“It goes to a capital committed, and various stores and various regions compete for money,” he said.

Powell did not return a call for comment Monday.

Powell, a developer of big-box stores including Fred Meyer, has a specific store in mind, and if that doesn’t pan out, he might look for other building opportunities for the site, McConkey said.

“Sequim is an excellent market, and we think there is definitely an opportunity there.”

Sales tax proceeds for Sequim year-to-date through October — the latest month that is available — were down 9.5 percent below budgeted sales tax revenues, or $227,625, Burkett said.

Developers have had their sights set on the Burrowes property for several years, so it’s hard to say what the outcome might be on the latest interest in the parcel, Burkett said.

In July, Burkett discussed the potential of a Fred Meyer store being built in Sequim during a presentation to the Sequim Association of Realtors.

Fred Meyer is a division of the larger Kroger Co. chain of retail stores.

Plans were dropped in 2004 to possibly include a Fred Meyer in the proposed Bell Farm shopping plaza on the Burrowes property.

Fred Meyer renewed its interest in the site in 2006 and 2008 without following through.

McConkey said past building plans for the property have come closer to fruition, then fallen flat.

“It’s been closer in the past because everything’s been set up,” McConkey said.

“On a scale of one to 10, we’re on two to three,” he said of the current prospects.

“We’ve been all the way to the finish line, and it’s been turned down.”

A text amendment the City Council approved earlier this year set the stage for allowing a free-standing retail store on mixed-use-zone parcels such as the Burrowes property, said Chris Hugo, city director of community development.

“If it hadn’t been approved, they couldn’t make application, and we would just deny it,” he said.

“They were the beneficiaries of something we had already initiated.”

In about 2006, the City Council required that multi­family residences had to be part of the same retail structure in mixed-use zones, Hugo added.

“The only way we could have retail was to have residences on top of it,” he said.

“It didn’t conform to commonly accepted norms of what mixed use is and didn’t reflect how the city had been behaving in terms of its development approvals.”



Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at paul.gottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: December 31. 2012 6:02PM
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