City’s Suzuki property worth more than what developers offer to pay

Developers who want to buy the city of Bainbridge Island’s Suzuki property have offered less than half of the land’s value, according to one of the property’s most recent appraisals.

Developers who want to buy the city of Bainbridge Island’s Suzuki property have offered less than half of the land’s value, according to one of the property’s most recent appraisals.

City officials put out a “request for proposals” for development of the 13.83 parcel, located at the southeast corner of Sportsman Club Road and New Brooklyn Road, in August.

In the RFP, the city said its goals were “a project compatible with the surrounding residential uses and will enhance and benefit the neighborhood and community.”

By the deadline in late November, four proposals — three for housing projects, and one for a public park — were submitted to the city.

Under the three different build-out scenarios, the prospective developers offered to pay the city between $2.4 million and $2.6 million for the land.

The land appears to be worth much more, however.

Earlier appraisals obtained from the city by the Bainbridge Review for the Suzuki property, show the land was once valued at more than twice the highest offering price now in front of city officials.

Three appraisals have been done in recent years; 2007, 2009 and 2013.

In a May 2007 appraisal, by Gibbons & Riely, the land was valued at $3.5 million.

A new study done less than a year later found a much higher value.

A March 2008 appraisal of the Suzuki property, conducted by McKee & Schalka, put the value at $5.4 million.

That appraisal was based on the R-2 zoning, which allows one home per 20,000 square feet. The appraisal assumed that 31 lots would be allowed.

The most recent appraisal is dated July 11, 2013 and was completed by Stephen Shapiro Commercial Appraisal.

City officials have declined to publicly release the report, and have said the state’s Public Records Act allows the city to keep the appraisal confidential because real estate appraisals “are exempt from release until the project or prospective project is abandoned or all properties that are part of the project have been purchased, sold or leased.”

The city noted that “public knowledge of the contents of the appraisal could affect the price.”

Records show the city paid $7,500 for the Shapiro appraisal.

The Suzuki property was purchased by the city in April 2000 for $500,000 as the site of a new police station, but the location of the middle school nearby was a deal-breaker for that idea.

A task force was assembled to offer a recommendation on what to do with the land in 2008, and the task force noted the city’s goal was to obtain “close to fair market value” so proceeds from the sale could be used for a new police station/court building.

Talk of the eventual fate of the Suzuki property began to percolate again more than a year ago, after local affordable housing advocates began to lobby for the development of the property. And in the lead-up to last November’s election, when the city put a $15 million bond measure on the ballot to pay for a new public safety facility, city officials stressed that the sale of surplus city land — including the Suzuki property — would provide funding for the new police station.

Discussion of possible development, though, has fueled concerns in neighborhoods close to the Suzuki property. The land is zoned R-2 Single Family Residential, and residents in nearby neighborhoods have long been worried that more units than allowed under the existing zoning will be crammed onto the property and that a dense neighborhood of new homes will worsen traffic heading to Bainbridge’s middle and intermediate schools roughly a block away.

Public discussion of the development proposals for Suzuki have been in limbo during the holiday season. But at the council’s last meeting in December, city officials said a community workshop will be held in early 2016 to review the submitted proposals.

The city council is expected to discuss the scheduling of the workshop at its meeting on Jan. 5.

Three development plans were submitted for the property. The potential developers include Housing Kitsap, AKA Investors and Blue Architecture; Housing Resources Bainbridge, Housing Kitsap; and Olympic Property Group/Davis Studio Architecture + Design.

The Bainbridge parks district also submitted a proposal to have the land transferred to the island’s park system, where it would be used for a public park.

Development plans range from 52 to 75 homes.

The property currently has a base residential density of 30 units.

The plan by Housing Kitsap, AKA Investors and Blue Architecture envisions the construction of 60 homes, with 35 percent of the land developed. Housing Kitsap would serve as the co-developer and subsequent manager of the project.

The proposal by Olympic Property Group/Davis Studio Architecture + Design would create a development called Suzuki Farm that would feature 52 homes and a community center. Proposed construction includes 18 “affordable homes” and 34 market rate family homes and town homes.

The development plan from Housing Resources Bainbridge and Housing Kitsap calls for 75 homes in a project called New Brooklyn Glenn.

Most of the houses would be rental properties and the development is described as mixed income.

The proposals that have been submitted will be evaluated based on nine “preferred priorities,” though the city noted that the priorities were not requirements and that the city “is open to any proposal that meets its economic needs and furthers important values expressed in its comprehensive plan.”

The criteria includes a varied housing mix; permanent affordability; green and sustainable construction; open space, community gardens, buffers and connectivity; easement for a safe route to schools; a project that is integrated into the neighborhood; high purchase price; and qualified applicant.