Friday, October 19, 2007

Rinker pulls Bellevue annexation application

Developer spent $700,000, with no results

Express Staff Writer

Of three major annexations proposed in Bellevue in the last two years, two on the south side of the city, above, have failed to gain approval. One, for property at the mouth of Slaughterhouse Canyon, is still pending. Express graphic by Gavin McNeil

After telling the Bellevue City Council on Monday, Oct. 15, that he couldn't afford to continue his proposed large-scale subdivision as planned, developer Harry Rinker announced he has officially pulled his application to annex approximately 280 acres into the city.

The proposed development linked to the annexation, called Woodbridge Village, would have included almost 600 homes on land located just south of Bellevue on the east side of Gannett Road.

At Monday's meeting, Rinker told council members that the $44.1 million cost of the project's on- and off-site infrastructure, as estimated by consultant Galena Engineers, was too high to make it economically viable.

Rinker specifically noted that approximately $24 million would be used to mitigate off-site impacts such as a 1 million-gallon water tank and road improvements to Main Street and Gannett Road. Especially burdensome for Rinker was the $20,000 per unit annexation fee, he said.

"There's no way to do this project with that kind of cost per unit," Rinker said during an interview Wednesday, Oct. 17, explaining that the cost would have to be passed on to the consumer. "This would end up pricing the houses out of the market."

Rinker said that he didn't blame the council in any way. He also said he was disappointed to pull the application after more than two years of work and around $700,000 spent on processing costs, such as application fees and traffic studies. It is unclear whether he will bring the application back before the city, take it before Blaine County—in which the land currently is zoned—or keep it as part of his estate.

"Right now, in all honesty, I don't know," Rinker said of plans for the land. "Perhaps at some point the city might take a fresh look and decide to do less off-site improvements."

Despite Rinker's comments this week, city officials said Thursday that the application was technically still active.

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