Developers request extension in Downtown Village project

yan Loew

Developers of the Kent Downtown Village project want more time before the multimillion dollar redevelopment of a downtown block can happen.

Right Dimensions LLC, a California-based developing company with ties to the Kent area, has requested a six-month extension on its memorandum of understanding with the city.

According to a memo from Community Development Director Charley Bowman, the city is recommending a 30-day extension for developers to provide city council with a more detailed schedule for the next phases of the project.

Renewal of the memorandum is needed to proceed with the developers’ plans for residential/commercial complex on the block of downtown framed by South Water, Depeyster, Erie and College streets. The project will cost more than $30 million, said Economic Development Coordinator Michael Weddle. Developers would use the 30-day grace period to compile a project timeline of activities and milestones, Weddle said. City Council will then consider the six-month renewal.

“As you can imagine, with a $30 million-plus development, there’s a lot of due diligence that’s needed,” Weddle said. “So the request of the developer is not unreasonable.”

The city’s memorandum of understanding with Right Dimensions, which expires Dec. 16, was originally planned to be up for renewal at the City Council meeting tonight. Council will instead vote on the 30-day grace period for the developers.

The memorandum allows Kent to negotiate with the company. A future contract, if the memorandum is renewed, will describe the responsibilities of the city and the developer.

Within the six-month period Right Dimensions is requesting, the developer said it anticipates concluding the purchase of all properties and the pre-lease of 40 to 50 percent of retail space.

Plans for the development project will include as many as 49 residential units and 83,000 square feet of retail space, Weddle said. The design also features approximately one acre of land for a community courtyard, and a parking structure is being discussed.

Right Dimensions has been working to coordinate the project for nine months, but Weddle said it’s conceivable the developers would need time to correlate acquisition of land and meet all zoning and planning requirements.

The developing company also has asked the city to evaluate tax increment financing options.

If the developer has met Bowman’s requests by the end of the 30-day period, Bowman will request City Council’s authorization to work with the city’s bond counsel to begin outlining possibilities for the use of increment financing. Tax increment financing uses real tax property income as a funding source to retire a debt the city will incur, Weddle said, and in this case the debt will be incurred for the parking deck. The city will borrow money by floating a bond for the parking deck, he said.

Real property taxes will be insufficient to cover the cost of the parking deck, Weddle said, so the developer will have to make up the difference. In the memo, Bowman said he would, if the 30-day period requests are met, request council authorization to use the developer’s engineer for design and cost estimation of a parking structure.

Contact public affairs reporter Ryan Loew at [email protected].