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A City Center to Serve Bothell
By Mayor Joshua Freed
Work on a new Bothell city hall could start as early as this summer. Why a new city hall and why now? The current city hall was built in 1939 when Bothell had a population of 700. Both the city hall and the Dawson Buildings no longer serve the needs of Bothell, which, as of February 28 this year, will have a population of over 40,000. It isn’t convenient for citizens to go to multiple buildings to conduct business and it hinders collaboration and efficiency. The buildings are also expensive to maintain and the City is spending valuable resources to lease space for staff offices that can’t fit into existing facilities.
Just as importantly, a new city hall is a key component of downtown revitalization. A city hall provides a civic presence and public gathering space, and is the kind of significant office tenant supported by the Downtown Subarea Plan. It’s an essential part of the larger City Center block planned as a vibrant mixed-use development that will energize the downtown economy by creating a strong community core.
The role a new city hall plays in downtown revitalization is why the location is important, too. The location of the future city hall has been established and reinforced by the community through public input and city council decisions on numerous occasions over the last decade. Along with cost advantages, the current city hall site is well situated to serve as a link between historic Main Street and new downtown development.
The city hall is planned as a lease development project using a nonprofit public benefit corporation to issue tax-exempt bonds under IRS revenue ruling 63-20. Under the 63-20 method, a nonprofit facilitating entity enters into lease and development agreements under which the nonprofit is obligated under contract to deliver the completed project to the City, on time and within budget. By moving forward now, the City can take advantage of historically low interest rates and can fix construction under a guaranteed maximum price before labor and material costs rise even further.
Bothell residents established an ambitious community vision that meets the needs of both residential and commercial residents. The City is bringing this vision to fruition by providing convenient, accessible, and predictable public services, and by creating a vibrant place to live, do business, and visit. A new city hall is a vital element of this vision and represents an important investment now and for Bothell’s future.