This parking lot could be turned into a four story building with underground parking, retail stores, and condos, if the Enumclaw City Council believes it’s the right fit for their city. Photo by Ray Miller-Still

This parking lot could be turned into a four story building with underground parking, retail stores, and condos, if the Enumclaw City Council believes it’s the right fit for their city. Photo by Ray Miller-Still

Four-story downtown project pitched to Enumclaw

The bottom floor would be retail, but the next three stories could be condos for aging Baby Boomers.

Plans for a $55 million investment in downtown Enumclaw were floated last week before members of the City Council.

The proposal involves an under-utilized piece of city-owned property and a desire by Enumclaw leaders to see it developed. The block fronting Cole Street, between Initial and Stevenson avenues, is primarily used for parking, but also includes a pair of small buildings housing the Enumclaw Chamber of Commerce and Arts Alive!

The city has, for some time, considered what would be ideal for the location. A formal request went out last year, fishing for developers who would be interested in creating a mixed-use project with ground-floor retail space and upper floors dedicated to housing.

The city didn’t get quite what was hoped for, but two developers came forward with modified plans, each containing elements of the city’s original request. The council expressed an interest in hearing from each.

The first of the proposals, from Enumclaw businessman Donn Bauer, came during the Jan. 28 council session.

Bauer explained his vision for a structure that would seek anchor tenants to help fill 36,000 square feet of street-level retail space and three upper floors of build-to-suit condominiums. All that would sit atop an underground parking garage.

Bauer emphasized that the growing Baby Boomer population is keen on condo living. With children gone, Boomers are looking to downsize and simplify their lives, he said, adding that Crystal Mountain provides another built-in customer base.

Bauer said he has put out feelers and received an enthusiastic reply from prospective condominium residents. Many have gone so far as to sign agreements, he said, although it’s premature for anyone to put their name on a contract.

Bauer noted that prospective tenants have been supportive of his plan for an upscale approach. Pricing would likely start at $700 per square foot, he said, meaning the smallest of his units would be pushing $600,000. Larger units would climb into the millions, Bauer said, confirming his belief that there’s an audience for high-end, downtown living.

The city has always pictured a downtown plaza on the downtown block, a public place that could host events or simply be a gathering spot. Asked if his plans included that feature, Bauer replied, “absolutely.”

As for appearance, Bauer said he favors a development that “looks like a building built in 1922.” He said he’s commitment to providing a structure that fits with the downtown character, noting the first two floors would feature brick construction.

If the city and Bauer reached an agreement, he figures the entire project would be finished in three years.

The second party that contacted the city has not been scheduled to appear before the council.

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