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April 15, 2015

Antique Mall in heart of downtown Kirkland sold to Bellevue developer

Kirkland Reporter

Tj Martinell

Bellevue-based Continental Properties has purchased the Antique Mall property in downtown Kirkland, which has sat dormant for six years since the mall owner closed its doors.

The property at 113 3rd Street, owned by Marilyn Dillard, sold for $12 million and was first put up for sale late last year by commercial real estate company Kidder Mathews. Sitting in the heart of downtown Kirkland, the property is located two blocks from the waterfront, adjacent to the Heathman Hotel and next to the Kirkland Transit Center. The site was formerly occupied by the Antique Mall, which closed in 2009 after being the centerpiece for the downtown area for a quarter of a century. The Antique Mall opened in 1983 under co-owner Marietta Van Patten.

The property is 41,994 square feet. As much as 9,261 square feet is unoccupied. The property is zoned for the Central Business District and includes a 55-foot height limit.

This is not Continental Properties first purchase or project in the city. In addition to the Central Kirkland Condominiums, they are currently constructing a residential building at 4th Avenue and Central Way.

Now that the purchase is complete, Continental has submitted an application to meet with city staff as they move forward with plans for redevelopment, according to City Planner Jeremy McMahan. Before they get a building permit, they will need to have their plans approved by the design review board.

Ellen Miller Wolfe, the economic development director for the city of Kirkland, called the property "pivotal" due to its proximity to the transit center.

"We're happy that the property has now been purchased," she said. "We're happy for the owner who has been thinking about this for a long time and is a wonderful friend to the city."

As talks between the city and the new owners occur, Wolfe said, they plan to discuss the possibility of shared parking. Prior to the sale, the city had an agreement with the previous owner that allowed the city to lease parking spaces surrounding the antique mall. The current agreement goes until Dec. 31, 2015. The city has also been working on proposals to address what they believe is a lack of parking availability in downtown. Councilmembers and business owners have stated that developers are able to build fewer parking stalls than required by code if they are able to show they can support the reduction based on similar sized buildings via a parking study. To do so, a developer hires a transportation consultant to do a parking demand study at two or three other sites. The study is then reviewed by the city's transportation engineer for approval.

"We are looking for opportunities for more parking," Wolfe said, "but we're happy that the property has now been purchased."

For some, however, enthusiasm over the sale is tempered by Continental's plans to build mainly residential. Kirkland Chamber of Commerce Director Bruce Wynn said he had hoped a new owner would build a conference center, "something to fill a need which the city desperately needs."

"I am disappointed to find out that is not what is not going to be in the works," he said, "There's more money to be made with condos."

Yet, he said, downtown will benefit from the additional retail space as opposed to the current unoccupied, dilapidated building.

"It can't be torn down fast enough," he said.

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