The announcement potentially injects new life into the 215-acre site, which is north of Interstate 5 and surrounding Cabela’s. It has been slow to develop since its former developer, Tri Vo, unveiled a grand, mixed-use vision for the property several years ago. The recession slowed real estate development, and then Vo filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on the project in August 2010.
The tribe purchased 37 acres near Lacey Gateway in 2008. It now plans to develop that land and the Gateway land with Wig Properties – totaling about 250 acres – into a mixed-use development in phases over several years.
“It’s one more step to diversify our economy, provide jobs and create our own revenue, while also providing services and/or products to our neighbors,” Nisqually Tribe Chairman Cynthia Iyall said.
Iyall was among several tribal members who met with Lacey officials Wednesday to announce the sale.
“It’s exciting for the city, Wig Properties and the tribe,” said Community Development Director Rick Walk. “It’s a step forward for all the partners.”
Walk attended the meeting with City Manager Scott Spence and Mayor Virgil Clarkson.
The meeting didn’t address many specifics about development on the site, although information about work to date on the site was shared, Walk said.
That includes a recently completed environmental review for the Town Center portion of the development, a 120-acre site envisioned for retail, office, commercial, residential, civic and hospitality uses.
“We talked about how the purchase fits in with the previous work and how we need to go forward,” Walk said.
The sale was expected to close at 5 p.m. Wednesday. The seller is HomeStreet Bank of Seattle, which regained the property after the Vo-led Hawks Prairie Investment LLC filed bankruptcy, listing $89 million in assets.
HomeStreet was one of the largest creditors in the bankruptcy filing. The Lacey Gateway site was purchased in 2005 for $29 million, $15 million of which was paid in cash. The balance was secured with a first lien deed of trust from HomeStreet, according to court records.
Joe Cushman, director of planning and economic development for the tribe, said the tribe won’t rush into developing the property.
“There’s a lesson to be learned about how the property was tried to be developed before,” he said.
Cushman said development decisions will be market-driven, indicating “what to build and when to build it.” He said it could be two years before work begins on the site.
Wig Properties was selected as the tribe’s partner to work on the 37-acre site near Lacey Gateway. After that, the tribe decided to include Wig on the larger parcel as well, Cushman said.
Wig Properties owns two shopping centers on Olympia’s west side: West Olympia Place and Cooper Point Pavilion, both on Cooper Point Road.
Owner Mon Wig also once expressed interest in building a 500,000-square-foot shopping center on former Olympia brewery property east of Capitol Boulevard.