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UP inks deal for Applebee’s to be Town Center’s first retail tenant

Post by Christian Hill / The News Tribune on Nov. 15, 2010 at 11:25 pm with 15 Comments »
November 15, 2010 11:41 pm

After years of planning and tens of millions in public investment, the city of University Place appears to have landed its first retail tenant in Town Center.

The City Council approved Monday selling property to Apple Washington LLC under the condition it build an Applebee’s restaurant at the location.

After the unanimous vote, council members took a brief recess to pop open the bubbly – sparkling apple cider – to celebrate the news with residents who attended the meeting.

Council members were indeed in a celebratory mood.

“This is the first of many steps to come,” Councilwoman Caroline Belleci said. “It’s been a long hard-fought battle, and I think we will see the Town Center plan as designed and envisioned come to fruition.”

Added Councilman Ken Grassi: “We’re going to be moving down the alphabet with a lot more excitement yet to be announced.”

Those could come soon. Interim City Manager Steve Sugg said there’s “heavy-duty negotiations” with other potential buyers, and this agreement could provide momentum to ink more deals.

Councilman Gerald Gehring said he expected high-end and lower-end restaurants will sign onto the development in the future.

“We feel very fortunate to get a restaurant that I think is a very good fit for the city,” he said.

The proposed sale price is $420,000. After paying closing costs and the broker’s commission, the city will receive in the “neighborhood of $395,000,” said City Attorney Steve Victor, who drafted the agreement. The city intends to use the proceeds to pay down its debt.

“We believe that is market correct based on a study of comparables – in fact, it may even be better than market correct,” he said.

The city’s only obligation under the agreement is to extend a natural gas line to the property, Victor said.

Closing of the sale is scheduled to occur within 20 day of the latter of two conditions: buyer receiving permits and approvals, and the substantial completion of the city’s work to extend the gas line.

Once the sale is closed, the buyer will be obligated to commence construction within six months.

Victor said the restaurant will be open by the fall of 2011, at the latest.
He noted the restaurant will be an updated model, with a brick façade, updated awnings and lighting and a planned outdoor seating. It will feature a larger space, with indoor seating of about 200 patrons.

The restaurant will be located on the southern half of Lot 4, which is along Bridgeport Way and next to the market square.

The city has borrowed more than $40 million to begin development of Town Center as an inducement to attract private investment. The goal of the development is threefold: grow the city’s sales tax base, absorb future growth and provide residents a gathering place.

The city originally planned to complete the Town Center project in 2006, but its opening has been delayed repeatedly. The city has worked with four potential developers to bring private investment and retail tenants to the project, but the partnerships ended for various reasons.

Changing tack, University Place officials have planned to sell off the 12 lots individually, intending to develop Town Center in a piecemeal fashion as opposed to all at once in recognition of the ailing lending and real estate markets. It has hired a broker to assist with that effort.

The proposed two-year budget that the council is revising prior to adoption doesn’t anticipate any land sales or revenue from Town Center.

Work continues on the new civic building, which will house the future City Hall and library, served by an underground three-story parking garage on the property. The library is scheduled to open Feb. 12.

Prior to the discussion and vote, Mayor Debbie Klowsowski noted there “should be a drumroll.”

Branches bouncing along the roof of City Hall from Monday night’s windstorm provided something like it throughout the night.

Leave a comment Comments → 15
  1. oooo boy Applebees, I cant wait!

    $35 million in debt and a project that has been grossly mishandled but we got Applebees!

    Lets fire up the Corvette parade. Maybe JP patches will MC, Horray Horray!

  2. rainrider says:

    Nice work UP! This is an excellent start!

  3. rusirius says:

    An Applebee’s? Remember how this was all going to be high-end retail and a hotel? Remember the Denny’s on the corner? So now for millions of dollars, the City in all its wisdom has replaced it with a Denny’s. they should erect a statute to the former city manager Bob Jean. he sure got out of town quick after securely fastening a millstone to the necks of the taxpayers in U.P. Remove the entire city council.

  4. Oh joy. So, close a Denny’s and open and Applebee’s. That’s really going UPmarket, isn’t it?

    When are the citizens of UP going to get wise and beg Tacoma to annex them? Get rid of this festering pit of a city government. It was a bad choice incorporating. Now fix it.

  5. gonefishin69690 says:

    Lets hope by the time it opens, there a still a few other businesses open and a couple people with jobs left to go eat there!

  6. @rusirius- we already do have a statue honoring Bob Jean. It is a big GIANT egg in the middle of a roundabout. Whenever I pass that thing, I picture the pair of eagles as the townspeople of UP, looking aghast at the mess Mr. Jean and city council laid on us, and wondering how on earth we are going to feed it when it hatches. I doubt any other city has such a hilariously horrible, yet so very appropriate representation of itself.

  7. TacomaRick says:

    Wow! Applebees? Say it aint so? way to get classy UP…Sure would be nice to have a nice family Italian restaurant in UP..oh wait that got kicked out what 7 years ago?

  8. @TacomaRick: my sentiments exactly.

  9. Daisydog says:

    What’s next, KFC? A nice little Indian Restaurant? A dance studio?

  10. Whats up with all the haters! Finally some good news concerning OUR town center. I for one will take my family to the new Applebees and show others the new UP Town Center is a good place for a business.

  11. Next? Old Country Buffet and a Bail Bonds joint.

  12. $40,000,000 borrowed. Library torn down. Millions in tax revenue lost. Stortini’s and Denny’s closed. Applebees buys a pad. Wow!

  13. dumbbloggersmakemesick says:

    Exactly Rturley! I agree. I don’t normally blog, but COME ON!!! I can’t stand it.

    Daisy Dog, no sense EVER…blah, blah, blah Your boarded up Denny’s and dilapidated buildings did not draw a crowd. I did not even know the buildings existed for the longest time because you couldn’t see them from the road. No business can be successful that way. I sped right by. Traffic moves slower on BP Way now, so I am paying attention to the Town Center.

    I do not live in UP, but REALLY look forward to a safe place to walk around and shop with my kids – and with the market square having a fountain to play in and fire place to cozy up to at night -WOW!.

    Anxiously waiting to see if you really do make something special in your town UP!!! The Tacoma Mall and Lakewood Mall scare me at night these days.

  14. Spartacus says:

    @ dumbbloggersmakemesick … Since you, admittedly, do not live in UP, you have no idea what the actual tax payers who DO live there have been dealing with, do you?

  15. 40+ million dollars and many years later and the first restaurant tax payers get is an Applebees. What a let down! On the bright side, Applebee patrons will not have to drive the extra 10 minutes to Lakewood. It appears that the decision makers have lost their vision for upscale restaurants and shopping and this is going to be another mundane shopping center. If the Town Center is only attracting chain stores and restaurants then at least choose those that are not in Pierce County, otherwise you could have save yourself millions and kept the Dennys.

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