The father and son ownership team of Sigillo Cellars – Mike and Ryan Seal – say they are interested in engaging in facts regarding their purchase of the King Street lot in downtown Snoqualmie, the spot where they are trying to build a new two-story production facility/restaurant/boutique hotel for their growing winery.
[You can read more about the history Sigillo’s plans HERE.]
The Seals had no idea their interest in purchasing and building on the city-owned gravel lot at Railroad Ave and King Street,
currently used for parking, would become a ‘hot button’ issue and spark what they describe as the dissemination ‘untruths’ about their business on social media.
They said while they realize some residents may have issues with the city, some have gone so far as attacking them on social media and posting accusations of “back room deals” on their business account. The owners say by providing factual information regarding their King Street lot purchase, they hope to stop “the spreading of untruths.”
Concept Driven by Growth
Firstly, the project was driven by a need to expand Sigillo’s current Meadowbrook Ave production facility. They want to stay in Snoqualmie – not head or to Issaquah, Preston or North Bend – and explained where the wine is bottled is the location that is printed on the label.
The Seals say they have loved being in Snoqualmie since putting down roots in 2011. In a statement they said, “We take great pride in being a community member and contributing business in Historic downtown Snoqualmie.”
The new facility would increase production from the current 4,000-4,500 cases per year to 5,000 – 7, 500 cases per year, which includes bottling for other small wineries and possibly adding another label.
The Approach & Purchase Price
Wanting to remain in Snoqualmie, the Seals say they began looking at options downtown which led them to the empty King Street, and then learned it was owned by the city. Sigillo had a market analysis done on the property to land on their $450,000 purchase price offer and then approached city staff with that offer and their concept. Ryan Seal said the offer has always been $450,000 and isn’t sure where a rumor to the contrary generated.
The purchase price offer is also a lot higher that the land value of the adjacent bowling alley, which has the same commercial zoning. According to King County tax records, the bowling alley land was assessed at $100,000 last year. When asked if they were worried they might be overpaying for the King Street lot, Ryan said yes and noted that real estate values are now beginning to decline.
Improving, NOT Privatizing Sandy Cove Park
The Seals said their project has always included improvements to Sandy Cove Park – and that it is in their best interest that the public park be improved, but they have no intention of privatizing it as some vocal project opponents claim. They do want the city to commit to improving the park, though, whether that work is considered part of their purchase price or the city uses proceeds from the lot sale to make the improvements.
As far as using the park, the Seals say if they – or any patrons of their potential facility – want to rent the park out, they can – just as anyone can rent any city park. They would, though, have to abide by the required parks department procedures for park rentals. The Seals say they would absolutely have ‘no privilege to the park.’
As far as the conceptual image showing a new deck being added to Sandy Cove, the Seals say this was just one conceptual public improvement idea their architect added to the plans. They say they know all final plans have to be approved by the city, which has oversight over the project that is a part of the city’s downtown revitalization goals/plans.
Buildings in historic districts are not required to provide the same amount of parking as in other commercial areas of cities, something that is not specific to Snoqualmie. The gravel parking lot would disappear, but the bowling alley would maintain its portion and parking spots. The Seals say their conceptual plans include 7-9 spots on the north side of the building and another 6-12 public spots for Sandy Cove Park when the Falls Ave easement, which runs behind the King Street lot and Adventure Bowl, is completed.
Both the city and Sigillo have acknowledged there will be a loss of about 50 parking spots with the sale of the lot. The city maintains that it added new street parking to compensate during the first two completed stages of downtown remodeling work, and said it also plans to add more spots during future downtown street improvement work.
Historic District Height Code Amendment
The height code amendment the city council is currently contemplating for the downtown historic district has created a lot of controversy with some residents. The council is expected to vote later this month on whether to raise the limit from 30 to 35 feet.
The Seals conceptual designs were created using the underlying Business Retail zoning height of 35 feet, which they stated they believed was the height allowance. They said the city – not Sigillo – discovered conflicting height code issues in the Historic Overlay District.
A city staff effort to clean up the code has led to in-depth council discussions on where to set the height limit. Staff is recommending 35 feet with allowances for appurtenances and flood code, which is similar to height limits and allowances in other nearby city historic districts including North Bend.
Sigillo’s current conceptual plans have the building’s flat roof at 39 feet, which includes raising the building three-feet to meet flood code. The conceptual plan also includes a glass peak – considered an appurtenance – in the center that would make this portion of the building taller.
Sigillo is waiting on the city council’s height code decision before deciding if the current project is feasible or if they will need to alter the plans. The city granted a 60-day closing extension for the lot’s sale while council decides on the height ordinance amendment. The council approved the building’s concept in October 2017 and Sigillo secured project funding in late June, both of which were required for the sale to move forward.
If the project continues, all plans would undergo historic design review, public hearings, and other required city proceedings before building permits would be issued.