Marin condos at Semiahmoo attract potential buyer

Published on Wed, Mar 14, 2012 by Jeremy Schwartz

Read More News

The unfinished Marin condo building sits behind a chain link fence. Photo by Jeremy Schwartz.

The long-stalled Marin condominium project may soon realize a recovery as an attractive listing price has enticed a potential buyer.

Local realtor Mike Kent would not provide details on the interested party, but said the listing price for the entire project is $10 million. The original owners, Andrew and Wanda Shaw of British Columbia, poured $26 million into the project before being forced to hand the property over to Seattle Bank after defaulting on an $18 million loan.

Only one of three planned towers was finished, with the second only a shell and the third nothing but a concrete slab. The project was expected to bring 54 high-end condo units to west Blaine. Now a chain link fence surrounds the unfinished tower.

Once the sale is finalized, Kent said the interested party plans to finish the incomplete building “very quickly,” though he did not know if the potential buyer plans to build the third tower. Kent could confirm that once condominiums go on sale, the prices will be considerably lower than what was originally asked. Assessed values of the completed units range from $221,000 to $339,000. The former owners were planning to ask between $600,000 and $1.8 million.

If the sale does go through, it will be just in time as the Semiahmoo Resort Association (SRA), which represents approximately 900 members of the Semiahmoo community in west Blaine, wants the Marin project to be either completed or torn down by the city.

“Everyone is quite appalled with the state of Marin,” SRA board member Ken Raithel said.

The SRA has grown weary of the run-down appearance of the unfinished building and wants officials with the city of Blaine to do something about it. At the March 8 Blaine Planning Commission meeting, Raithel encouraged Blaine city officials to declare the unfinished tower a blight on the surrounding community and begin the process of tearing it down.

“Nuisances and blights need not be limited to an adult book store,” Raithel said.

According to Raithel, the unfinished building poses a danger to both the economic and physical well-being of the surrounding community. The unfinished construction has exposed rebar sticking out of the building, while visitors to the spit have told him the unfinished project is an unattractive entry to the Semiahmoo Resort.

“Marin is not a backdrop anyone would want for a successful operation,” Raithel said. “[The resort’s] success benefits everyone in Blaine.”

If the pending sale falls through, city officials have two main routes for condemning the property and demolishing the unfinished building.

While the city rarely does this, planning staff could take an enforcement action against the property owner to determine if the building is a public hazard, Blaine community development director Michael Jones said. This method would take the form of a legal proceeding, with the city’s building inspector acting as judge to decide whether or not the building should be condemned.

The Blaine Planning Commission could also initiate a change to city code, which Raithel specifically suggested at the last commission meeting. After consulting with Jon Sitkin, the city’s attorney, planning staff shared Sitkin’s thoughts with Raithel in a letter Sitkin sent to the city.

“The city can also seek a judgment abating a public nuisance,” Sitkin wrote. “Some jurisdictions define a building or structure that was commenced and left as a public nuisance. This is not included in the city’s definition of public nuisance. It is within the authority of the city planning commission to initiate a code amendment and make such a recommendation to city council.”

The code amendment process would require a public hearing on the issue and eventual approval from Blaine City Council, Jones explained. He could not predict what such an amendment might look like.

Planning commissioners have placed the issue on their March 22 meeting agenda for further discussion.

Above right: Only one of the Marin condo buildings has been finished. File photo.