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Donut hole sale finalized by King County

By KRIS HILL

Maple Valley's vision for the donut hole site is that much closer to being fulfilled with Monday's approval by the King County Council of the property's sale.

The council authorized the sale of the so-called donut hole, known by that moniker due to being an unincorporated chunk of land wholly surrounded by Maple Valley, to a firm known as Summit Place 156 for $51 million. The developer will purchase the property in segments during the next six years.

County Councilman Reagan Dunn, who represents Maple Valley on the council, has lobbied on Maple Valley's behalf to get the city's point of view heard.

"With the sale of the donut hole behind us, we can now focus on the most important details of how this development will come together through joint planning,” Dunn said. “My amendment to the agreement today ensures that the developer has the option of preserving conservation lands around the city of Maple Valley. It is important to the citizens of my community that they receive a benefit from the impacts of this development."

This property has been home to a county transportation facility, which covered 13 acres, as well as nine holes of Elk Run Golf Course and a large chunk of open space.

Maple Valley Mayor Laure Iddings and Interim City Manager Christy Todd spent much of Monday in Seattle leading up to the vote, with the mayor offering testimony on the subject, which has been a hot button issue for nearly 2 years.

“I appreciate the King County Council’s willingness to keep the interest of the citizens of Maple Valley in mind as we all work toward joint planning of the donut hole,” Iddings said. “The amendment to the purchase and sale agreement offered by Councilmember Dunn will increase the chances that Summit Place will choose to conserve land close to Maple Valley, thereby benefiting the residents of Maple Valley.”

While negotiations continue on the density, zoning and final amenities to be included in the 156-acre site, the vision for its use includes parks, open space, trails and a walkable community.

"The adoption of this amendment into the purchase and sale agreement provides options that may result in the preservation of conservation land near Maple Valley, thereby benefitting our residents," Todd said. "Time will tell whether that will occur or not, but we worked hard to get to a vote on the option."

Maple Valley and King County are working with the buyer in the planning of the property’s development. The property is expected to be annexed by Maple Valley by the end of 2009. Annexation would result in Maple Valley receiving taxes and fees associated with the development that could raise as much as $20 million.

“We’ve worked with the city to ensure this development delivers a lifestyle that enhances people’s health and well-being, as well as badly needed housing that is affordable to working folks such as teachers, police officers and store clerks,” said King County Executive Ron Sims, whose staff led the initial negotiations. “We have an opportunity and a developer who is willing to build more than houses. It will be a desirable community that supports a high quality of life.”

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