Bothell council considering donating land for affordable housing downtown

Friday, July 5, 2024

Lot P South is a vacant lot in downtown Bothell the city is considering donating for affordable housing. Photo by Sara Lorimer

By Oliver Moffat

Between the library and the Pop Keeney Stadium in downtown Bothell is a vacant lot the city purchased from the North Shore School District for $1.9 million in 2010 known as “Lot P-South”.

The city spent roughly $2 million settling a lawsuit and cleaning up petroleum contamination at the 1.67 acre lot and in 2022, the parcel was appraised at $6 million dollars.

But instead of selling Lot P South at a profit, as the city has for other nearby lots, Bothell is now seeking to donate the site to Bothell United Methodist Church to be developed into affordable housing.

At the June 25, 2024 meeting, the Bothell City Council discussed transferring the property to Bothell United Methodist Church which has a plan to build affordable apartments at the site.

A map from the Bothell city website shows the location of Lot P-South

The building would provide 200 rental units affordable to people making 50-60% of the median income and include community space and office space for human services. A cafe retail space offering training for hard to employ residents would also be included.

Councilmember Jeanne Zornes raised concerns about the donation, “would the city of Bothell do better financially selling that for $6 million and buying a piece of property and putting it somewhere else”, she said, “we're not flush with cash and we're not flush with surplus property.”

 Mayor Mason Thompson pushed back against criticism that the city should sell the property for maximum profit, “The property acquisition didn't happen in a vacuum. It happened along with a lot of other properties and to my knowledge the other properties that we've sold […] were all sold to pretty much the highest bidder,” he said.

“I don't view this as gifting them the property. I view this as an investment in 200 affordable housing units and community amenities. And if we want affordable housing, this is what it takes,” said Mayor Thompson.

Earlier this year, the Kenmore city council backed out of a plan to donate a parcel of land to build 100 units of affordable homes for disabled seniors facing homelessness after emotionally charged backlash from some residents. The city of Redmond swooped in to save that project (and snagged the tens of millions of dollars already raised for the project).

In November of 2023, Shoreline opened St. Margaret’s Place to provide 100 units for tenants experiencing homelessness. The city of Shoreline donated the land at N 198th Street and Aurora Avenue.

According to the King County Regional Homeless Authority’s 2024 point in time count, the number of people experiencing homelessness in the region increased to 16,385 (a 23% rise) from the 2022 estimate.

Updated 7-5-2024


Anonymous,  July 5, 2024 at 8:15 PM  

Deputy Mayor Al-Kabras comment is from a previous proposal, not this latest proposal. This latest proposal is for rental units.

Anonymous,  July 6, 2024 at 5:58 PM  

These proposals always sound so promising. However, they never seem to actually provide affordable housing. Somewhere along the line there is always a "disconnect" between concept and reality.

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