Unbuiltspit land put up for sale

Published on Thu, Feb 9, 2006 by eg Olson

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Unbuilt spit land put up for sale

By Meg Olson

Trillium Corporation has put its undeveloped Semiahmoo spit properties up for sale as the developer works to create a coordinated approach to take the area to the full development visualized by the 20-year-old Semiahmoo Master Plan.

“We’re working on a conceptual plan for the whole buildout of the spit,” said Trillium Corporation project manager Pam Andrews. Andrews said that the new plan would be unveiled at a planning commission public hearing on the new Seagrass Cottages proposal, scheduled for February 23. Four months earlier Blaine city council rejected a proposal for 35 duplex units on the 22-acre site between the county park and the Beachwalker Villas condominiums on the west side of Semiahmoo Spit. The new proposal is for 15 fourplexes and eight duplexes, totaling 68 units on a 20-acre site.

Besides the Seagrass properties, owned by Gepetto Properties but being developed by Trillium, ownership of the undeveloped land at the end of Semiahmoo spit is a mix of Trillium Corporation, Trillium president David Syre, and Trillium subsidiary Semiahmoo Company. An exception is the property between the hotel facility and the Beachwalker Villas condominiums, where Shaw Holdings recently got city approval to build three multi-storey structures made up of 54 condominium units.

Windermere realtor Jim Kaemingk Jr. has an internet listing for “exclusive Semiahmoo spit development property,” including commercial and recreational zoning, for $77.2 million. The listing states there are existing buildings and leases on the property, but that new development can include “204 housing units, 51,000 square feet of commercial and 258 marina slips.” Kaemingk stated his listing did not include the Seagrass project but encompasses the bulk of other undeveloped land at the end of the spit.

“I’ve had quite a few inquiries,” Kaemingk said. “I send out about a packet a week.” Since the property was listed with him in August he said there have been three groups that expressed serious interest, including a development group from California and investors from Asia.

Trillium’s own website also features the development potential at the end of the spit but doesn’t put a price on it. It lists three parcels under “properties for sale”: six acres of mixed-use land at the tip of the spit which would encompass the existing marine service facility; 21 acres of land and tidelands described as the marina expansion and marina condominium site, and the 22-acre Seagrass property. The site describes the first parcel as zoned to accommodate 112 condominium units and 50,000 square feet of commercial space, the second as ready for 17.5 acres of marina expansion and 55 condominium units, and the third for 76 units as a mix of duplexes and multi-family units.
Andrews said Trillium was not looking to get rid of its holdings on the spit, but was looking for options in developing them. “We could do parts of it ourselves, a joint venture, or end up selling it,” she said. “We’ll move ahead with planning, permits, and if opportunities present themselves, we’ll be ready.”

Permitting for the expansion of the marina would begin soon, Andrews said. “There’s a lot of work to do there,” she said, adding they had been meeting with the Semiahmoo Marina owners association to discuss the best way to use the expansion site. In the 1984 master plan the marina was slated to grow from the original 296 slips still there today to an 800-slip facility.

“The marina is really half of what was planned,” said Semiahmoo Marina Condominium Association president Larry Larson. “Trillium has been talking with us about a possible expansion and it sounds like they’re getting ready to do that.”

Larson said in meeting with Trillium the association had expressed an interest in bigger slips to accommodate rapidly rising demand, and a concern about parking. “Where the parking lot is now will likely be something else and we’re talking about a lot more people,” he said.
In presenting their plan for build-out of the area Andrews said they will give particular consideration to a parking plan in response to a request from city planning director Terry Galvin.

Galvin said adequate parking and the development of a continuous shoreline trail around the spit would be two priorities the city would be recommending as part of an overall development plan. “They believe they can go with underground parking and we need a commitment that can happen,” he said. “The original plan had substantial land set aside for parking.”

Since Trillium controls virtually all the privately-held land on Semiahmoo spit, Galvin said there was both an opportunity and a responsibility to look at the whole when planning for specific projects. “We need to look at the whole area because it’s connected and should be integrated,” Galvin said.