City’s plan to buy F & Wishkah property falls through, other plans proceed

The City of Aberdeen’s plan to purchase a vacant lot at the corner of East Wishkah and F Streets has fallen through.

The city offered $250,000 for the four contiguous lots that comprise the parcel where a Chevron station once stood.

The city is interested in a public and private partnership to develop the entrance to downtown Aberdeen. Part of the vision includes a Visitor’s Center proposed in the past by Greater Grays Harbor, Inc. and the city. That’s included in a three year action plan by the Bozeman Group, an economic development consulting firm hired by the city.

The city council voted June 25 to authorize Mayor Bill Simpson to enter into a contract for the property.

The city was notified about the collapse of the deal on June 30 in a short email to Community Development Director Lisa Scott from the Seattle real estate company that represents the owners.

Apparently, when the news broke about the city’s impending purchase, previously stalled negotiations were revived and a credit union that had been trying to buy the property came forward with a better offer than the city’s, with fewer contingencies, Scott said.

The name of the credit union was not revealed to the city and the agent for the property did not respond to requests for more information.

A copy of the email sent by real estate agent Leo “Kip” Lange of S.M. Piha Company to Scott reads: “The news in Aberdeen moves extremely fast. After your vote, the credit union contacted the owner directly and removed all contingencies except for one and a closing date by the end of July. I don’t know what to say except if they don’t close I will be calling you immediately. …”

“As of now the deal is dead,” said Scott who, along with consultant Cary Bozeman, expressed determination to continue with previous plans. Once the new owner is revealed, the city and the Bozeman Group will attempt to get them involved as “a sit down partner” in plans for that area, Scott said.

The collapse of the deal will not deter the city from applying for a $146,945 Department of Ecology grant. The city planned to do an environmental assessment on the former Chevron property, as well as land along the riverfront of the Chehalis River that Bozeman wants to become a waterfront park.

The application for that grant will now shift entirely to the waterfront properties which currently belong to four owners, Scott said. The grant is not contingent on ownership of the land though the city must obtain permission from the owners to have their waterfront area tested.

The owners are William “Skip” Perry, Leo “Pat” Brutsche, John Hilliard and Earl Whiting, Scott said.

“The beauty of the grant is it doesn’t obligate the city to clean it up,” Scott said.

Once the land is assessed, the city would have the areas appraised, Scott said. Any purchase of the land requires approval by the city council, she noted.

The three-year action plan, also includes finding a way to ease traffic through the downtown core to allow for a more pedestrian friendly Wishkah Street, which Bozeman views as the heart of the city.

Current estimates for public and private dollars needed for property acquisition in the entrance and riverfront areas are estimated by the Bozeman Group to range from $1.5 million to $2.5 million. The cost to develop of all three ranges from $17 to $21 million in public and private money, a summary for the project estimates.

The Bozeman Group is working on raising public and private money for the projects through Aberdeen Revitalization Movement, a 501-C-3 civic group.

A public meeting of the Planning Commission about the development plans is set for Thursday, July 24, at the Log Pavilion, from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Erin Hart, 360-537-3932, Twitter: @DW_Erin


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