Sigillo Cellars closes on King Street lot purchase; plan to open winery, boutique hotel in downtown Snoqualmie in 2020

After being granted a two-month closing extension by the Snoqualmie City Council in late September, the city announced on December 3rd that Sigillo Cellars had closed the sale on the vacant, city-owned lot at Railroad Ave SE and SE King St in downtown Snoqualmie.

The local winery plans to build a two-story warehouse-style building with wine production space, as well as a retail/restaurant space and  a second story boutique hotel. They said they plan to market the facility as a wedding venue.

The council granted Sigillo the last extension to give them more time to re-evaluate building plans to see if they were feasible with the council’s newly approved height ordinance of 35 feet without flood height allowances. (The original plans were based on a height limit of 35 feet with flood allowances.)

“This represents a very positive milestone in our decade-long effort to revitalize downtown,” said Mayor Larson. “It is all the more satisfying because it involves a beloved local homegrown business that is deeply committed to the community and will support downtown revitalization efforts in alignment with the City’s Downtown Master Plan”

According to Larson, the lot’s $450,000 sales price is a cash and improvement deal that includes $155,000 in cash and $295,000 in street, sidewalk and utility improvements toward the extension of Falls Ave between the King Street lot and Sandy Cove Park where a city street right of way currently exits. City engineers, with assistance from engineering consultants, estimated the cost of finishing Falls Ave between the lot and park to be $590,000. The city and Sigillo will split that cost.

Critics of the projects have voiced concern over the loss of parking on the King Street gravel lot. Mayor Larson stated the King Street lot was never intended to be a parking lot, and has been home to other businesses during the city’s history. He explained improvements made downtown during the first two phases of recent revitalization projects have added more parking spots than the amount anticipated to be lost when the King Street lot was re-developed.

Critics contend the gravel lot provides easier parking, though, along with space for oversized vehicles. Some city council members have said as more parking spaces are added during future downtown revitalization phases, they would like those to include more handicapped spots.

Snoqualmie Community Development Director Mark Hofman, indicated that the Sigillo building will be substantially consistent with the concept exhibits that were made part of the Purchase and Sale Agreement.

According to a city news release, “Next steps include Sigillo Cellars continuing formal design of the site and building with their architect and working with staff to obtain development permits over the winter.  Once Sigillo Cellars has obtained all required permits, it will construct infrastructure, foundation, building and street improvements in accordance with an approved design.”

Sigillo Cellars said it hopes to have the new building finished in Fall of 2020. Owners Mike and Ryan Seal said, “We would like to thank the community, our guests and club members for the opportunity to stay and grow in downtown Snoqualmie. We look forward to the design and historical review process to help guide us to a final, buildable plan that fits both the current and future design of the downtown historic feel.”

Photo below is early conceptual rendering – not final design.

 

Comments

  1. Richard Scheel says:

    Why should we taxpayers of the city have to pay $295,000 for half of the cost of extending Falls Avenue? That extension only benefits the Sigillo business – it does not benefit anyone else in the city. That means that we essentially sold the lot for only $155,000.

    • Matt Larson says:

      The street improvements are an essential element of future Sandy Cove Park and river boardwalk trail connection improvements. Applying a portion of the sale to the street and sidewalk completion assures that tax payers do NOT pay for it, nor risk project cost over runs. The developer accepts the risk of delivering these public improvements within budget.

      • Richard Scheel says:

        Matt, how does construction of this 1 block street extension benefit anyone in the city other than this single business? It doesn’t go anywhere other than around this one building. How is that essential to the park? Sandy Cove Park is already accessed from existing streets. If anything, the street construction might require removing some of the trees that are at the top of the slope (at the back of the current parking lot) – I’m not sure just where the edge of the street and sidewalk construction will be. And then if Sigillo’s builds their proposed platform on the river side of the street, that will definitely require removing trees. I don’t see any benefit to residents in having that platform – it’s just a pretty place for Sigillo’s customers to look down on the park and river.

        • Matt Larson says:

          Richard, the planned river boardwalk trail will begin/terminate at this location. We also have plans to improve the entire park at the top of the bank and the grass field below. Improvements will involve armoring the rapidly eroding river bank, leveling the lawn and adding much-needed drainage, and adding public structures and paved surfaces on the upper bank adjacent to the above described (road, sidewalk, parking) improvements and the river board walk trail. When completed, this will become a high quality destination park for both residents and visitors taking full advantage of the river and views. All of this provides significant public benefit and helps enhance the historic downtown as a destination for the annual two million visitors to the Falls. More visitors equals more business in the historic district and a more vibrant downtown.

          • Modernizing and building quality attractions will continue to make Snoqualmie a
            Wonderful place to live and visit. As I age I get more
            Aware of the need for things older adults can and enjoy. These kinds of things make Snoqualmie better.
            Added revenues from business taxes and sales
            Will only help us grow responsibly.

  2. Matt Larson says:

    It is also worth noting that my administration secured over $7 million in grants (not local taxes) to pay for the first two phases of downtown redevelopment. In its current state, this prime retail lot produces $0 revenue for the community. Sigillos will provide much needed and additional diversity to our tax base and it will add considerably to a more vibrant historic downtown.

  3. Lesley Sheppard says:

    I believe the rendering above shows the 55-foot version of the building. Will it be 55-feet tall as per the original proposal? Also, this article fails to mention that Mike Seal proposed this deal while he was on the City’s economic commission. While he recused himself from the commission vote, that would be quite the conflict of interest. This article also fails to mention sales comps and the fact that during the two years of sale-extensions the market went up significantly, but the sales price did not.

    • Mayor Matt Larson says:

      1. No version ever proposed 55 feet.
      2. Mike Seal never pitched his project to the EDC. He was asked to brief the EDC. The EDC is an ADVISORY board. They voted on a recommendation, not approval. They have no decision making authority, thus no conflict of interest for Mr. Seal who recused himself in an excess of caution.
      3. The City carefully tracked property values until time of sale. Ms. Sheppard’s assertions are based on pure speculation. The City–in fact–received fair market value ($450k) for the property.

      • Fair market value for when??? You used a grossly outdated appraisal Matt and you once again screwed over the citizens in Snoqualmie to court another developer. Your lies are catching up to you and your administration.
        Sincerely 1% er

      • George Storrs says:

        The sales price is not $450,000 then. I would say it is $155,000. In Snoqualmie Ridge, the contractors and business’ paid a certain amount for the lots etc. — and had to install new roads at their own cost. I doubt Snoqualmie subsidized their improvement s to the local streets etc. — Show me another business that has been allowed to purchase property at a given price but deduct construction costs?

        • Matt Larson says:

          In existing historical areas of town, developers are responsible for paying for improvements to public right of ways (ROW) from their property line to the center of the street (ROW). Businesses on the other side of the street are responsible for the other half. In the case of the Ridge, all sides of the street were being developed by the same developer, thus the developer was responsible for paying 100% for both halves. In the case of Sigillos, the other half of the street is fronted by a City Park, thus the City is responsible for improving this portion (half) of the street, if so desired. There is nothing unusual about this cost structure. In fact, during both phases of the downtown redevelopment projects (new sidewalks, roadway, utility, street lamps and furniture, etc. on Falls Ave and Railroad St) the cost was entirely bourne by State grants and a very small amount of City match. Local businesses contributed little to nothing. Consequently, Sigillos will bear a greater share of public improvements as compared to other nearby businesses. As for the assertion that the appraisal was grossly outdated, I invite anyone to provide me with actual data/proof that we did not receive fair market value. I am 100% confident that we did and firmly stand by my early comments.

          • Adam Babcock says:

            Can someone help me understand the ‘Sellers Settlement Statement’? The settlement statement appears to show the the city signing off on the real estate taxes as under $10 per year. I pay close to $9,000 a year. Is there a mistake, or am I misreading the statement?

            I was also dumbfounded to see the city’s (our money) routing and account number clearly displayed on the same document package, open for public view. Is that atypical?

            • Lesley Sheppard says:

              I have never been opposed to development of this lot; however our downtown merchants were pretty clear that this parking is vital to their businesses. Any development should be built above or partially above parking. I understand this would somewhat alter the size and scope of the development, but that would have been a wise and good compromise.

      • Lesley Sheppard says:

        Mr. Mayor, We all know that those glassy rooms on top have a special name classification so they would not be counted in the height. I would not call receiving $155,000 cash plus tax payer obligation to fund a road that benefits only Sigillo “fair market”.

  4. Thanks Matt, appreciate the effort it takes to coordinate much needed progression and tax revenue base.

  5. When you listened to the concerns of the citizens and fulfilled your campaign promises of environmental protection, and completed an Environmental Impact Study, how did the citizens respond to the EIS?

    • Lesley Sheppard says:

      Adam, per all my research, it looks like the City has not done a full EIS since the Ridge was first built. They City routinely issues DNS, or determinations of non-significance in lieu of any EIS reports. This has been a subject of concern for many residents. I am sure the Mayor will tell you otherwise.

      • Adam Babcock says:

        Yes I had asked about their disregard for the environment as well. The city relies upon EIS’s done in the early 2000’s.

        As surprising is the fact that Mr Larson apparently doesn’t care about the city’s bank account info being on public display.

  6. Adam Babcock says:

    Mr Larson, when you recently commissioned an Environmental Impact Study on these 2 parcels, in order to meet your campaign promises of environmental stewardship and transparency, I’m just curious, how did the citizens react to the findings in that new EIS study?

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