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April 05, 2016

More development coming to University Place's town center

The News Tribune

Brynn Grimley

The Seattle development group that brought Whole Foods to University Place is moving forward with plans to build more retail on the city's commercial center off Bridgeport Way.

This is the second project Verus Partners will undertake on the property in the 3500 block of Bridgeport Way West since entering into a contract with the city in 2013.

The retail and office development company plans to build a 25,000-square-foot commercial building directly south of the Whole Foods and across the street from the Clearview 100 apartments.

The new building will go into the gravel area used as a temporary parking lot.

No tenants have been named but several businesses are interested in the location, according to Verus managing partner Robert Andrews.

The City Council unanimously approved a decision Monday night to allow the second phase of development. The project still needs to go through the city's design review and permitting process before construction can begin.

The city previously negotiated a contract with Verus to develop many of the lots that comprise the larger town center campus off Bridgeport Way.

The campus includes a mix of residential and commercial buildings and will one day be home to UP City Hall.

Verus branded the area The Village at Chambers Bay.

The company will pay the city $419,935 for the land. The price was negotiated before Whole Foods was built.

$419,935 purchase price of land paid by Verus Parnters to the city of University Place
The city agreed to the price in 2013 because it didn't want to "penalize (Verus) for the increased property value that they created by bringing Whole Foods" to the city, according to City Attorney Steve Victor.

The negotiated price was about $10 per square foot higher than the average commercial retail space price at the time. The amount "remains appropriate in today's market," Victor said.

Verus courted Whole Foods to be the anchor tenant of the site. It now is working to fill smaller commercial spaces suitable for restaurants and other retail uses.

The city previously set an aggressive time line for Verus' development of the site. The plan called for new tenants to come in within six months of closing on the last property.

The hope was that a flurry of businesses would open on the site by 2017. Instead the property remained untouched through much of 2015 while the city cleared past utility easements on the land.

That work is now complete.

Tacoma-based SEB Inc. is responsible for most of the development on the campus so far.

It built the Clearview 100 building, which includes luxury apartments and ground-floor retail space, and is finishing work on its second apartment building, Latitude 47, which also has ground-floor commercial space.

It also built a garage that when opens will offer public parking.

In December, commercial real estate firm Kidder Mathews announced Top Pot Doughnuts and Mediterranean Gyro Grill had penned deals to open in the retail spaces below the Clearview building. The businesses should be open by late summer, according to Jeff Kraft, first vice president and partner at Kidder Mathews.

T-Mobile is also slated to open between Top Pot and Rainier Medical in the Clearview 100 building. Kraft is working to court another restaurant for the Latitude 47 building, he said.

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