Burien acts to part ways with Town Square partner
The Burien City Council has voted to end its long relationship with developer Harbor Urban, and wants another developer to build the next phase of public-private Burien Town Square.
Seattle Times business reporter
The Burien City Council has voted to dissolve its 10-year relationship with developer Harbor Urban and partner with another company to complete Burien Town Square, an ambitious public-private project to revitalize the city’s downtown.
The council’s decision came after negotiations to jump-start the next phase of the stalled development collapsed this month.
Citing provisions of its contract with Harbor Urban, the council Monday directed the firm to sell the undeveloped property for $2.6 million to another developer, Legacy Partners, whose plans council members preferred, City Manager Mike Martin said Tuesday.
Harbor Urban declined to comment, but Martin said he wouldn’t be surprised if the company challenged the council’s action in court.
Burien bought 10 underdeveloped acres in the city’s core more than a decade ago. In 2005 it sold half the land to Harbor Urban, then Urban Partners, which planned to build about 400 condos and 70,000 square feet of shops and restaurants.
The city built a new City Hall, library and park on the land it retained, and Urban Partners completed the first phase of its part of the complex — 124 condos atop 20,000 square feet of retail — in 2009.
But the company later lost that building to foreclosure.
Urban’s contract with the city called for the next phase of construction to start by July 2011.
With that deadline past, the council moved last spring to buy the undeveloped property back from Harbor Urban, then backed off.
Instead, it began talks with the developer aimed at building a mutually acceptable alternative project. Harbor Urban maintained the original condo plan was no longer feasible.
The developer instead proposed about 150 rental apartments with a small amount of retail and an art center, Martin said, but withdrew that proposal earlier this month after Legacy Partners entered the picture.
Legacy’s proposal is similar to Harbor Urban’s, Martin said, but council members liked its look, feel and the way it relates to the rest of Burien Town Square better.
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