Sequim’s newest big box might not be a Fred Meyer store

By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News

SEQUIM — A Bellevue developer continues to be interested in building a 165,000-square-foot store at the corner of Sequim Avenue and U.S. Highway 101, a city official said this week.

But in the end, it may not be a Fred Meyer store.

Peter Powell, president of Powell Development Co. of Bellevue, met in August with city Community Development Director Chris Hugo and property co-owner Mark Burrowes of Sequim to review potential building plans on what is known as the Burrowes property, Hugo said.

Powell is a developer of big-box stores, including Fred Meyer, which has considered building on the property in 2004, 2006 and 2008.

Hugo, Powell and Burrowes reviewed a rough drawing “showing a large-footprint building with no name on it,” Hugo said.

Fred Meyer Stores spokeswoman Melinda Merrill had said in July that the 90-year-old retail chain was considering the possibility of building on the Burrowes property.

She said the chain has “been looking at Sequim for a long time.”

But Merrill said Thursday that Powell is not currently representing the 90-year-old retail chain in Powell’s discussions with the city of Sequim.

“We had only started looking a couple of months ago,” Merrill said.

“We we haven’t made any commitments, and I don’t have anything concrete I can tell you.”

The property — a field — is zoned for mixed use.

“At this point, there’s nothing we can see that would inherently preclude a project of this scale,” Hugo said.

The City Council on Sept. 24 approved a text amendment to the mixed-use classification in the zoning code that allows commercial, general-retail uses for the land-use designation.

The changes were proposed six months before the potential Sequim Avenue-Highway 101 project came to light this summer, Hugo said.

“It opened the door to a retail project going on the Burrowes property,” he said.

“We haven’t had any discussions about any particular tenant.”

The plans presented by Powell for the undeveloped parcel also showed “two or three” smaller individual-store sites on the property.

“They are moving forward with their traffic studies and conversations with our public works people over how to handle stormwater and groundwater and those issues,” Hugo said.

“It is essentially an economic analysis of how much mitigation they have to do and what are the development costs to get a project of this scale on this property,” he said.

“I don’t think they would be spending money like that if they were just kicking the tires,” Hugo said.

“They are serious about this opportunity.”

The next step would be a “presubmittal conference” that would divulge a specific potential tenant for the site and a more refined design that would show how water and traffic would be handled and how the project would connect to the downtown residential neighborhood that’s near the property, he said.

A big-box store at that location is potentially “a gateway project” for the city that would have to be of “high-quality design.”

“Once they do that, they can pitch it to whomever they can attract to the site,” he said.

It’s important that any project built at the Sequim Avenue-Highway 101 site “presents a good impact to the community off 101 onto Sequim Avenue,” Hugo said.

“That’s a very sensitive thing.”

In addition, Hugo said, wetlands are present, and any development must take account of Bell Creek, irrigation water, groundwater, stormwater and impervious-surface water runoff.

“There are five different kinds of water management on that site,” Hugo said.

“That’s a challenge.”

Hugo worked with Powell on a big-box project when Hugo was the Bremerton community development director, said Hugo, who has been Sequim’s community development director for 18 months.

“He’s a serious developer,” Hugo said.

Peter Powell was out of the country this week and unavailable for comment, a company spokeswoman said.

The co-owner of the property, Fred McConkey of Hunts Point, told the Peninsula Daily News in July that Portland, Ore.-based Fred Meyer Stores, a division of the Kroger Co., is “dead serious” about building a store on 16 to 20 acres of the parcel that would include 1,000 square feet of frontage on Highway 101.

McConkey would not comment this week about Fred Meyer’s plans.

The company “asked me not to say anything,” McCon­key said.

“That’s just their policy.”

Burrowes could not be reached for comment Thursday.

City Manager Steve Burkett discussed the potential for Fred Meyer locating in Sequim at a Sequim Association of Realtors meeting in July but has not been contacted by the company, he said this week.

Plans were dropped in 2004 to possibly include a Fred Meyer in the proposed Bell Farm Center shopping plaza at the same Highway 101-Sequim Avenue intersection.

Company officials renewed their interest in 2006 and 2008 but did not follow through, McConkey said in the earlier interview.

If a 165,000-square-foot store is built at the site, it would join Home Depot, Walmart and Costco as the largest stores in Sequim.



Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at paul.gottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: October 18. 2012 6:17PM
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