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Friday, August 17, 2012 - Page updated at 05:00 p.m.

Lance Dickie
Raise a glass to progress in Bothell's downtown revitalization

Lance Dickie
Seattle Times staff columnist

To quote the famous investor, John "Hannibal" Smith, "I love it when a plan comes together."

Or maybe he was a TV character. Either way, the line suits Bothell's A-Team urban planning vision to a T.

The city's redevelopment took another step forward in July, when McMenamins closed a $7.1 million deal on a 5.41-acre site in the heart of downtown revitalization efforts. The bottom line was $2 million in cash and the balance in community benefits.

The family-owned, Oregon-based enterprise of brew pubs and creative hostelries will turn the Anderson School Building into a 70-room hotel with some facilities available to Bothell residents free of charge for 15 years -- in particular, a refurbished community pool.

Plans call for construction to start in June 2013 and for the project to open by August 2014. Bothell City Manager Robert Stowe said the McMenamins' signing, the first parcel to close, adds a measure of predictability for others looking to invest in the downtown.

Another site, south of McMenamins, is expected to close next month. As planned, two-acre Lot K will be 150 residential units and 10,000 square feet of commercial-retail space.

The city has $207 million of private-sector development in the works in downtown Bothell.

Plans include 1,400 new housing units, 144,000 square feet of commercial space and a new City Hall. In June, the city celebrated the completion of a major overhaul of a section of Highway 522. Continued progress on the realignment of Highway 522 and Highway 527 will yield two more blocks of retail.

A fascinating element of Bothell's vision is a purposeful embrace of UW-Bothell and Cascadia Community College. The campus is growing, and so are its local connections. A nearby apartment complex was revamped into Husky Village student housing.

Stowe said the city will do more to increase the visibility and links to the campus, but for now the plan is to focus on redevelopment and urban amenities -- to offer much more to its college neighbors.

Bothell's re-imagining of itself has been a bold, tenacious process stretched over years, and it has been sustained through difficult economic times.

City leaders, inside and outside of government, deserve credit and praise for the decision to get started, the effort and patience to stay the course, and the results that are starting to reveal themselves.

Dutiful planning takes all forms, and that includes seasonal holidays. Mark your calendars now for Blues for Food Fest 2012, the sixth annual Labor Day event at Magnuson Park community garden and amphitheater in northeast Seattle.

This all-ages celebration of the blues and food is a collaborative effort between the P-Patch Trust, which promotes community gardens, and the Washington Blues Society. Activities and music start at noon, Saturday, Sept. 1, and run to 9 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Kids under 12 are free. Proceeds go to the P-Patch food banks and giving gardens, the P-Patch Trust and the blues society's Musicians' Relief Fund.

* A BIT OF ELABORATION is in order for my Aug. 3 column about the work of Suzanne Griffin. She is a Seattle-based educator who has spent a decade in Afghanistan building schools, overseeing programs to educate and train teachers, principals and college administrators, expand special-purpose English-language instruction and increase access to online education.

I broadly described her doctorate from the University of Washington as being in educational assessment. More precisely it was in the area of curriculum and instruction, with an emphasis on educational communications and technology.

Lance Dickie's column appears regularly on editorial pages of The Times. His email address is ldickie@seattletimes.com


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