By Polly Keary, Editor
Sky Valley residents will very likely have the option of Christmas shopping at Walmart in Monroe next year.
After years of legal delays, last month the retail giant paid the city for the land upon which the new Superstore will rest along North Kelsey, behind Fred Meyer.
Now building permits are in the review process, and final permits are expected in mid-November, said Jeff Sax, Economic Development Manager for the city of Monroe.
“Then they will go to bid, and expect to proceed to construction about a month after that,” said Sax.
The timing is fairly important. Groundwater hits a peak in April, and PacLand, the project management company overseeing the development, would like to be done with the foundations and excavation by that point.
If all goes according to plan, the new 155,000 square-foot store will open as early as Nov. 1 of 2014.
“They may be open earlier,” said Sax. “The Marysville store ran into groundwater problems, and they still only were 10 or 11 months in construction.”
Of the money the city received, about $600,000 will go into a contingency fund for one-time expenses, and the remaining $6 million will go toward paying off what the city still owes on the land. They city bought the land from the county in 2004 in order to control development in that part of town.
The city sold bonds to raise the money, and can now recall about $6 million worth of them, leaving somewhat less than $5.5 million left to repay.
“Those bonds aren’t due until 2015, so we still have a couple years,” said Sax.
Dentist, Discount Tire, others express interest in North Kelsey land
The city still has a significant amount of land to sell on the parcel across the street around Lowe’s, and although an earlier potential deal with Bridgestone Tire never became final, other stores are looking into building there, including Discount Tire, which has been exploring the possibility for about a year.
Sax said there are inquiries from other businesses, as well, and though he said it is too soon to name them, he said they are of the mid-level kind often found in larger urban shopping districts.
“There is a private developer interested in building a dental clinic in town,” Sax added. “That may turn into a transaction. There’s interest.”
Walmart will sell a small piece of its land to a restaurant, and there has been steady interest from national chains in that, as well, he said.
There is likely to be 14,000 auto trips a day into Walmart, and restaurants find that number attractive.
Old landfill could go up for sale
Monroe could make even more money, and provide space for the kind of businesses that generate sales tax revenue, buy selling the city’s old landfill which forms a hill alongside Fred Meyer.
Currently the city is completing a study, commissioned in February and paid for with some money from the contingency fund, to see what the condition of the land is, which was a dump until the 1970s.
Of the 12 acre parcel, three acres will be set aside for the eventual construction of the U.S. Highway 2 bypass.
Of the rest, about two acres holding about 150,000 cubic yards of waste material comprise the old landfill, and so far it appears that about half the waste buried there is organic and is now compost.
The contents of the other half will determine the city’s course; should the city clean it up themselves and sell it, or sell it as-is for a lot less money?
“We are close to having information to make that decision,” said Sax. In the next two weeks, a draft of the report is expected to be made public.
In order to clean up a landfill, the old waste is removed and recycled in a seven-phase process. What can’t be recycled is pressed and relocated. The city is exploring the cost of processing the dump.
The possibility is strong that the city, by paying to clean up the land, could get significantly more than the sum of the cost of the cleanup and the value of the land as-is, Sax said.
One thing that could add value to the land is that the hill contains a fair amount of gravel, Sax added.
“The buyer has the opportunity to extract it and bring it down to the Galaxy level, or leave it,” he said.
There is already interest from developers, he said.
Lake Tye wake park gets last needed approval
The construction of a park in which a cable will tow wakeboarders and other water sports enthusiasts across the surface of Lake Tye was delayed from construction this summer because of the Army Corps of Engineers, which took a lot longer to issue permits than developer Propullsion anticipated.
But the Corps has finally signed off, and last week, the company made its first rent payment to the city.
The company will build the facility at the park and pay the city for the concession in the amount of $1,200 a month for the first two years and $2,000 a month thereafter.
Initially the company was to start paying July 1, but because of the permit delay, the city deferred the payments until Oct. 1.
Now the company plans to construct the park with the goal of testing it and doing community events as early as April, with a formal grand opening in June.
The future of the sport of cable-towed wakeboarding looks bright, Sax said.
“It’s going to be a demonstration event at the next Olympics,” he said. “They will set a cable up in Rio De Janeiro. The towed water sports genre is the eighth largest sport on an economic scale in the world.”
Also coming to Lake Tye Park in coming months is likely to be an expanded performance area. Through the summer, five concerts were held at the park, with the last a large production that included a large sound and light system that was attached to the concession building there.
“I’m pushing very hard to have a facility to play on next year, much-expanded, that allows us to hang equipment without fear of a rainout,” said Sax.