Looking to add a significant spark to downtown Enumclaw, City Councilman Hoke Overland pitched two ideas during the tail end of the most recent council gathering. Both were received optimistically and have been moved forward.
First, Overland – speaking on behalf of the Tourism Advisory Board – sees potential in a long-vacant lot sitting at the corner of Cole Street and Myrtle Avenue. The land is privately owned, he noted, but the owners have indicated a willingness to enter into a short-term lease (perhaps two or three years).
Overland, who sits on the TAB, said the group envisions “multiple uses” for the gravel-covered lot. He rattled off possibilities including concerts, movies and plant or art sales; the land could be incorporated into Sundays on Cole, he said, and be used with other festivals. On a more ambitious note, Overland said the TAB is exploring the possibility of turning the lot into a temporary ice rink during the winter months.
In the end, Overland proposed that the council authorize the city attorney to enter into contract talks with the land owner. His motion was unanimously approved.
The empty lot was once a key piece of downtown real estate, home to several businesses, including Sears. All was destroyed in a middle-of-the-night inferno.
Prior to initiating the Cole-and-Myrtle conversation, Overland had brought up an old topic: the future of the city-owned lot between Cole and Railroad streets, bordered by Initial and Stevenson avenues. The lot is includes buildings occupied by Arts Alive! and the Chamber of Commerce, has one piece of public art and is home to a permanent, public restroom. But, mostly, it’s a parking lot and is considered under-utilized.
The city has looked at options for the lot and went so far last year as to advertise a formal Request For Proposals, seeking a developer for the property. A couple of options were presented but everything eventually stalled.
“Here we are six years later and the project has not gotten off the ground,” Overland said.
He proposed that the city look at the northern half of the block, along Initial Avenue, with the idea of creating a downtown pavilion.
Overland suggested a quick start on the proposal with, hopefully, a relatively fast decision. His plan calls for formation of a Friends of the Pavilion Foundation that would tackle the dollars-and-cents issues accompanying such a project. That could include fundraising, sponsorships, grants, in-kind donations and the like.
Overland’s suggestion – which he agreed would put things on a very fast track – calls for groundbreaking next summer.
While there was no objection to the concept, City Attorney Mike Reynolds noted he has had a tentative discussion with someone considering the development of a “boutique hotel” on the site. All agreed to give Reynolds time to complete those discussions with a goal of having something more concrete by the council’s Aug. 12 gathering.