Efforts to restore seminary at Saint Edward Park revived

Staff reportJanuary 5, 2014 

Efforts to restore seminary at Saint Edward Park revived The public will have a chance Jan. 14 to hear about plans for a potential new long-term lease that could help preserve the historic seminary building at Saint Edward State Park in Kenmore.

Staffers from Washington State Parks will explain the agency’s process for evaluating a long-term lease proposal and seek comments from the public about things the agency should consider in evaluating a long-term proposal. Comment will be included in a report to the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission at its meeting Jan. 23 in Olympia.

In the 1920s, the archbishop of Seattle donated the property to the Diocese of Seattle. In 1931, the seminary building was constructed. The site was used as a Catholic seminary by the Sulpician Order of Catholic Priests until 1977, when it was sold to the state. Saint Edward State Park was dedicated in 1978.

It is now a 316-acre day-use park with expansive lawns, trails and 3,000 feet of shoreline on Lake Washington.

The focus of the lease proposal is the seminary building, which requires an estimated $40 million for stabilization and repairs.

The 80,000-square-foot building features a bell tower, a grand hall, study hall, library, chapel, classrooms, dormitories, kitchen and former nuns’ quarters. The building and surrounding landscape are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

This summer the discussion of preservation was renewed when a group of historic preservation, political and community leaders met with the State Parks director and commission members.

In early October, neighboring Bastyr University, a participant in the discussion, indicated a renewed interest in use of the building. The City of Kenmore also expressed interest in having the building saved from further deterioration and activated, while continuing to provide recreation opportunities in the park.

As a result, the commission in November directed staff to explore partnerships to provide for rehabilitation and conservation of the building.

Also in November, State Parks was approached by real estate broker Kidder Matthews, expressing an interest on behalf of a client for a long-term lease of the building. The client’s name has not been made public, but the broker indicated that the client is a local software company specializing in cyber security and that the interest in building use is for office space and related functions.

After a mid-December meeting, State Parks staff determined the agency should move forward to explore the proposal. While continuing to gather public comment, State Parks intends to pursue two steps:

Short-term agreement: Prepare a temporary right-of-entry agreement authorizing the client’s representatives access to the seminary building to make improvements necessary for the client to establish occupancy quickly.

Long-term lease exploration: Work with the client’s representatives to develop a long-term lease proposal. This includes preparing building and site rehabilitation plans and conducting an environmental review process.

Get involved

Public meeting: Scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Jan. 14, at the Northshore Utility District, 6830 NE 185th Street, Kenmore.

Management plan: The Saint Edward State Park plan is available online at parks.wa.gov/plans/ saintedward. Public comment may be provided via email to stedward. planning@parks.wa.gov.

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