Developer may alter proposal for Saint Edward seminary building in response to changes by state legislature

Kevin Daniels, a Seattle-based real estate developer who has been working with the state in an attempt to transform the crumbling Saint Edward Seminary into a lodge, said decisions by the legislature this year may alter his proposal plans.

Saint Edward Seminary. Reporter file photo

Kevin Daniels, a Seattle-based real estate developer who has been working with the state in an attempt to transform the crumbling Saint Edward Seminary into a lodge, said decisions by the legislature this year may alter his proposal plans.

During the last legislative sessions, the state legislature voted to change the terms of the deal between the Washington State Parks Commission and Daniels.

Previous negotiations were based on the idea that Daniels would purchase 5-acres in the center of Saint Edward State Park, which houses the historic seminary building.

In turn, Daniels would purchase some 10-acres of property on the western boarder which includes shoreline, and swap it and cash for the seminary.

The legislature barred a purchase option and instead changed the agreement to a 62-year lease, with two additional 25-year extensions. The land swap, Daniels said, would be used as a down payment on the $1.5 million lease.

But Daniels also said the legislatures’ decision would have consequences, as creditors would likely charge him higher interest rates on loans. He said, if approved, he would also likely phase in construction instead of making all the improvements at once, based on the performance of the lodge.

“It’s a much more difficult project now, not impossible,” he said.

Having the state retain ownership of the property is a major development.

“It’s a better deal for the state because at the end of the day, they own everything,” Daniels said.

The state Parks Commission will be meeting in September to discuss possible steps forward. A vocal citizen group is petitioning the agency to leave the seminary in its current dilapidated state, or to remove dangerous portions and leave others as an open-air monument.

Another idea which has been floated is to turn the seminary into homeless housing, Daniels said.

Daniels further gave hints of waning intent to creating the lodge by saying if another entity were to step in and rehabilitate the building for other uses, public or private, he would pull out. He said he was primarily committed to saving the historic building.

“I don’t believe you need to save every building, but that is one of the most iconic buildings in the Pacific Northwest,” he said. “Hopefully, when it’s all said and done, it’ll be a big source of pride for the city of Kenmore.”

Until the Commission makes its decision, Daniels said his design process is on ice although they are continuing with an independent environmental impact study.

Daniels’ plan includes turning the lower floor into a spa, transforming the classrooms into meeting and community rooms, opening a restaurant and restoring the building with a blend of historical and modern influences.

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission invites the public to hear about and comment on preliminary staff recommendations for the Seminary property.

The meeting, from 6 to 8 p.m. on Aug. 30, is at Kenmore City Hall, 18120 68th Ave. NE, in the Community Meeting Room and Council chambers.

A State Parks Commission meeting will be held on Sept. 22 at the Holiday Inn Express at 1441 East Washington in Sequim.

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