Puyallup: Sumner

Sumner sells downtown property to apartment developer. Sounder parking to be affected

The Sumner City Council voted Oct. 7 to sell the former Red Apple Market site for $2.25 million to a developer who intends to build three- and four-story apartment buildings.

The land has been used most recently as a parking lot for Sounder train commuters.

The 1.97 acres is poised to become a multi-family residential complex with potentially some retail sites along Maple Street, Sumner spokesperson Carmer Palmer said in a statement.

The new owner, Kathy Dobler, has not yet announced rent prices for the apartments, Palmer said. Palmer said it’s up to the developer whether the apartments will be affordable housing.

Efforts to reach Dobler, a founder of Dobler Management Company, were unsuccessful.

The real estate listing included an asking price of $4.2 million, and the city received three bids. The offers were consistent with each other and stated that market demand is for fewer, larger units than the city was estimating, Palmer said.

“We’ve held onto this land for 20 years already. It was not in our interest to hold it longer, hoping for a market change,” Palmer said.

Products from an oil and towing company once located on the property have seeped into the ground, contaminating the land. The city has left remediation up to the developer, so that also was a factor in the lower price, Palmer said.

The City of Sumner bought the land in 1999 for $715,000 to move and expand City Hall but later decided it was cheaper to renovated the existing City Hall on Maple Street. Red Apple Market leased the property until closing in 2006.

A private developer previously planned to build upscale condos, but the recession and the discovery of the contamination halted the project. Since 2008, fuel companies settled over the contamination, the city tore down the Red Apple building, and purchased a bank, the last business on the block.

The sale leaves Sounder commuters in a pickle.

They already are hampered by Traffic Avenue construction, and no relief is in sight until 2022 when a Sound Transit 500-spot parking garage is to be completed.

“The interim construction period is going to be rough, and we’re talking to our partners at Sound Transit about that issue,” Palmer said. “In the long run, even this increase will not keep up with demand.

“Our region is going to have to start relying on other access options, including feeder transit routes and housing next to the station.”

Josephine Peterson covers Pierce County and Puyallup for The News Tribune and The Puyallup Herald. She previously worked at The News Journal in Delaware as the crime reporter and interned at The Washington Post.