The city of Monroe is hiring a consultant to help market the six unsold North Kelsey properties that sit north of U.S. Highway 2. They will work with a broker the city has yet to hire.

The Monroe City Council approved having Mayor Geoffrey Thomas sign a consulting contract with Stowe Development and Strategies at last Tuesday’s meeting.

“For the past several years, what we have been seeing are proposals to purchase individual properties, but nothing that has really come forward with an entire package,” said city administrator Deborah Knight.

The lots Galaxy Theaters, Walmart, Lowes and Providence Health have been built on were purchased and developed in the past seven years, according to council documents. Grubb & Ellis — now Newmark Grubb Knight and Frank — had been hired in 2010 to make sure the parcel was marketed and sold.

Knight said what makes the situation most urgent is that the city will owe a roughly $2 million debt payment for the properties in 2020. So, getting them sold off in the next two years is a high priority, she said.

Consultant Bob Stowe has worked as the city manager for both Mill Creek and Bothell, Knight explained. He is largely responsible for the major transformations those cities’ town centers have undergone in recent years. She believes Monroe will be hiring his expertise, track record and connections.

Knight said Stowe will coordinate with city staff and the broker hired for marketing and the sale. The city put out a request for proposal (RFP) for a broker with a Nov. 17 deadline that ended up with no responses. Hopefully Stowe will be able to help staff determine why, Knight said. She also believes he can determine if the city should approach the same brokers again or look for a new bunch.

Stowe will help the broker and the city evaluate the commercial real estate market, review the site’s zoning and the community vision, recommend development incentives and create marketing materials, according to council documents. He will also help negotiate the purchase, sale and development agreements on the city’s behalf.

Knight said Stowe is needed in part because neither she nor Monroe’s community development director Ben Swanson have the experience to making this type of sale.

The approved contract includes about $50,000 in fee payments for Stowe, which is set aside in the North Kelsey fund, Knight said. As an added incentive, he is offered 1.25 percent of the final sale for each parcel sold. She said she believes that will help ensure the properties are adventitiously sold. That money will be taken directly out of revenue from the sale.

Councilmember Jason Gamble commended Knight for bringing the proposal forward. He said from what he has seen North Kelsey is barely being marketed, or not how it should be. He said he believes it will be money well spent.