Carnation approves sale, development agreement for Schefer property

The vacant, 8-acre parcel will become a commercial business park.

A city-owned property in Carnation was sold to a commercial developer last week, as city leaders seek to turn the vacant space into a revenue-bolstering business park.

The nearly 8-acre parcel known as the Schefer Property was sold to the Remlinger Group, a real estate brokerage, for $2.4 million. The Schefer Property sits adjacent to Tolt McDonald Park at the end of Entwistle Street, and has held one of the city’s two dog parks. The city bought the property in 1999 for $500,000.

City officials are hopeful revitalizing the property will provide additional tax revenue and create a job base for the city. The added tax revenue will allow the city to better weather economic downturns and reduce burdens on taxpayers, they said. Meanwhile, more workers would provide patrons for downtown businesses.

The Carnation City Council approved the purchase in a 4-1 vote on Aug. 30. It was approved alongside a development agreement that requires the space be turned into a business park.

The city put the property up for sale last year through a request for proposal process, requiring the buyer to develop the property.

Negotiations with the Remlinger Group have been ongoing since December. Now, the city and Remlinger Group will proceed with a feasibility period to determine the viability of constructing 80,000 square feet of light industrial commercial space.

Development is expected to create a business park valued at $25 million and add an estimated 100 jobs to the city, according to prior Valley Record reporting. Development also includes the expansion of Larson Avenue, connecting it to NE 40th street, providing easier access for freight trucks.

Deputy Mayor Tim Harris positioned the project as an alternative to more property taxes. Carnation relies heavily on property taxes to fund basic services, but revenue growth from property taxes – subject by state law to a 1% annual cap – have not kept up with inflation, he said.

“This city, without an injection of commercial economic activity, is going to be left in a state in two to three years where we’re going to have to come out to the taxpayers of Carnation and ask for a levy lid lift,” he said. “It is in our best interest to have vibrant businesses operating in our city limits to fund services that citizens deserve.”

Councilmember Dustin Green, the lone vote in opposition of the project, questioned some its proposed benefits, including the feasibility of it being an employment center while lots on Tolt Avenue sit vacant.

“We have empty lots on main street. Our [commercial business district] is underdeveloped. To me that’s a concern,” he said.

Mayor Jim Ribail emphasized the city had always envisioned the property be used for light industrial development. While the vacant field had functioned as a park after a resident put up makeshift fences, it has always been planned for commercial use, he said.

“It’s completely surrounded by industrial [businesses],” he said. “ That’s how it’s supposed to be built.”

Ribail also emphasized the sale of the property was done in a unique way that gave the city control over what happens to the project and how it came to fruition.

“The easiest thing would have been to throw a for sale sign on this property and sell it for $2.4 million and walk away,” he said. “We would not have had feedback for the last year, for how we want this project to look, feel and come to fruition.”