If the city’s hopes are fulfilled, a downtown lot could become home to a three-story building with commercial space and housing. Photo by Kevin Hanson

If the city’s hopes are fulfilled, a downtown lot could become home to a three-story building with commercial space and housing. Photo by Kevin Hanson

City of Enumclaw seeking downtown developer

A new three-story building may be built on the corner of Cole and Railroad.

Hoping to find a willing business partner, the city of Enumclaw is moving ahead with plans that could result in downtown living, commercial development and a festive gathering spot for locals and tourists alike.

City administration is developing a formal “request for proposals,” which spells out the city’s hopes and desires while providing guidelines for potential investors.

In short, the city is looking for someone willing to invest in the downtown core, confident that Enumclaw’s vitality pays off financially.

City Administrator Chris Searcy gave an overview of the draft RFP during an April 9 meeting of the Enumclaw City Council. Council members will have an opportunity to weigh in, with the RFP headed to the April 23 agenda. Tentative plans call for the recruitment process to play out during the coming months, with a project partner selected in August.

At issue is the city property sitting between Cole and Railroad streets, bounded by Initial Avenue on the north and Stevenson Avenue on the south. The city block is home to buildings housing the Enumclaw Chamber of Commerce and Arts Alive!, a piece of public art, public restrooms and a lot of parking stalls.

The city has long noted the real estate is not being used to its full potential. For more than a decade, the city has wanted development at that end of Cole Street, but the most-recent recession killed any momentum. When the economy rebounded, plans were rekindled and, in late 2017, a consultant offered recommendations.


The final draft of the city’s RFP will likely seek a multi-story, multi-use development “consistent with the scale and character of Enumclaw’s historic downtown.”

The city is encouraging a three-story building, noting the height is not out of place, given existing structures like The Lee and Mutual of Enumclaw. The preferred plan is for commercial space on the ground floor with housing units on the second and third floors.

The city clearly states that housing should be “owner occupied,” meaning condominiums rather than apartments. However, the draft RFP notes that a “boutique hotel” would not be frowned upon.

In conjunction with a hoped-for project springing to life on Cole Street, the rest of the city block is viewed as a place for a public plaza and pavilion. That part of the development could be the result of private investment, public funding or a combination of both.

Finally, the city notes that priority will be given to developers willing to lease the city-owned land rather than making an outright purchase of the property. Also given priority will be those willing to make public improvements and consider the Chamber of Commerce and Arts Alive! as tenants.

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