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Cascadia sold to San Diego developer

Post by John Gillie / The News Tribune on March 23, 2011 at 11:16 am |
March 23, 2011 12:12 pm

The huge failed Cascadia master-planned development project between Orting and Bonney Lake is in new hands today.

Seattle’s HomeStreet Bank, which foreclosed on the 4,218-acre development tract in September, announced today its sale to San Diego developer Newland Real Estate Group. Newland is one of the nation’s largest planned community developers. The company is developing 40 large-scale planned communities in 14 states.

Real estate tax records show the tract sold to Newland for $49.1 million. HomeStreet had been the lender to former Cascadia owner Patrick Kuo. The bank today declined to say how much it had lent to Kuo for Cascadia, but prior news stories said the bank’s stake was about $75 million.

The development, planned for 6,000 homes, an employment center and various civic and commercial uses, is the largest master-planned communities in Western Washington. The master-planned community is larger than either Dupont or Federal Way’s West Campus, both huge master-planned developments.

Newland Northwest regional president Dave Wood said Newland will begin almost immediately to clean up the development.

“There are a number of deferred maintenance issues there that we’re going to fix,” he said. Those include replacing neglected landscaping and mowing and maintaining the 400 residential lots that are ready for sale.

Newland has been talking with regional builders for several months about beginning new home construction in the development. Wood said he expects new home construction could begin by early fall.

Work on the master-planned community, 20 years in the making, stalled when the mortgage loan crisis collapsed the new home market two years ago. Kuo acquired the land from Weyerhaeuser Co. in 1991.

The only building construction within the former Cascadia community so far is an elementary school.

Commercial and office development will take somewhat longer, said Newland’s Wood. The first activity on those uses will likely come in 2012 or 2013, he said.

Newland has four other master planned communities under development in the Northwest, in Spokane, Kennewick and in Bend and Hillsboro in Oregon. Newland’s Northwest legacy dates to 1979 when it created the Fisher’s Landing community outside Vancouver. Both Hewlett-Packard and Tektronix purchased significant campus locations in that community.

Wood said Newland had been on the lookout for Puget Sound area development project possibilities for some time.

The company had followed Cascadia tale of financial problems and its bankruptcy closely. When HomeStreet foreclosed, the company began discussions with the bank.

Homestreet ultimately advertised for formal bids for the property, said Terri Silver, the bank’s communications manager. Newland participated in that bidding and won the bank’s nod.

Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy said the Cascadia sale was positive news for the county.

“This development is poised to accommodate a significant amount of the county’s future growth in housing and jobs,” she said. “Pierce County has invested a great deal of time and effort into the planning and permitting of this project, and we are committed to its success. This community will be a jewel in the region.”

Newland will closely follow the master plan developed by the original developer and the county, Wood said, although there may be some alterations as conditions change, he said

For now at least, the working name for the community will remain Cascadia, but Newland is studying whether to give the huge development a new moniker.

Newland is assembling a team to manage the tract’s further development. It plans to open a local office soon, said Wood.

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