BELLINGHAM - Local investors are close to selling 7.8 acres off Meridian Street for construction of a 154-unit apartment building for baby boomers.
The current owner, Bayfield at Telegraph LLC, apparently will take a loss on the properties. The company, which includes more than a dozen investors primarily from Lynden, bought the properties between Telegraph and McLeod roads south of Home Depot for $4.74 million in March 2007, before the recession. The vacant land is listed on the Keller Williams Realty website at $2.95 million, with a sale pending.
"Somebody is coming in and is interested in purchasing it on the basis of that project that they just filed, I guess," said Henry Klos of Lynden, one of the minority owners. "Everything is still up in the air. They are doing their due diligence, testing the water."
The Inland Group of Spokane Valley proposes building Affinity at Bellingham, four stories of apartments for people 55 and older that would be similar to eight other projects the developer has built in Washington, Idaho and Colorado.
Bayfield at Telegraph initially hoped for a quicker turnaround and a profitable one. They ordered residents of a 22-unit mobile home park off the property in 2008, but the commercial-retail project proposed at the time fell through. The owner then put the properties on the market for $9.1 million that year. There were no buyers.
"We pulled it off the market and did a refinance so we could carry it," Klos said.
The Inland Group has filed four permit applications with the city, including an environmental review and a request to waive some of the standard requirements for improvements to Telegraph Road.
The standard environmental review includes air and water pollution, noise, light and traffic impacts. That part of Bellingham, near Bellis Fair mall, is already among the busiest in the county, and a new 99-room Oxford Suites hotel will be built a half-mile away.
"We're going to be looking closely at the review in terms of traffic impacts," city planner Steve Sundin said.
City planners agree in principle with the developer's request that it not be required to build a curb, gutter and sidewalk on the south side of Telegraph. Adding these to the road would destroy a steep embankment that serves as a buffer to Baker Creek, Sundin said. The waiver request, called a variance, will go before the city hearing examiner at a date to be determined.
Initial drawings of the development include a 3,000-square-foot commercial building on McLeod that must be included with a residential project on the commercial lands off Meridian, Sundin said.
Public comment is being taken on the apartment project. Email firstname.lastname@example.org by Tuesday, Dec. 31.