Woodinville Wine Village Update: Part 1

“Out with the old, in with the new” could be said to be the recurring theme of Woodinville, Washington’s Hollywood Winery District, as the roughly 300,000 annual visitors have seen the remarkable changes that have occurred during the last decade or so. Where there was once an abandoned service station, there is now the chic and popular home to The Station pizzeria and tasting rooms for Gorman Wines and Patterson Cellars.

However, all of the new is a mere preamble to the highly anticipated Woodinville Wine Village, or at least a preamble to the thought of it. Why, then, in a community so enveloped by change would the potential crown jewel remain a mere thought rather than a reality? Well, just as are the best wines being poured in tasting rooms throughout Woodinville, the answer is full-bodied and complex. Ok, maybe it’s just complex.

“Two Birds” to Kill: Zoning and Traffic

The story begins in 2005 when MJR Development (acting as Woodinville Village Associates) set out to develop land located in the heart of the Winery District, with the development to be known as the “Woodinville Wine Village.” The Village was planned to be situated behind the Hollywood Vineyards shopping plaza, which currently sits on the southwest corner of the intersection of Woodinville-Redmond Road and Northeast 145th Street and which houses Purple Café and Wine Bar and Sparkman Cellars’ tasting room, among others. The proposed site, roughly 45 acres in size, would stretch from where the Sammamish River Trail meets 145th Street, just across from the public sporting fields, swing around the back of the shopping plaza, and abut where the Brian Carter tasting room meets Woodinville-Redmond Road. It would make a large semi-circle shape completely encompassing the shopping plaza, and have entrances on either side of the intersection.

WVA and the City of Woodinville had two impediments to bringing this project to reality. One “bird to kill” was the problem of the property being zoned only for multiple business uses, while the vision for the Village included residential uses along with restaurants and wineries. A zoning change was needed. Another “bird to kill” was the problem of traffic. This intersection had been notorious for traffic for many years, and the Village stood to exacerbate a traffic problem that was already there.

Killing Two Birds

Anyone acquainted with overused clichés will inform you that the best way to kill two birds is this: with one stone. Now, did WVA and Woodinville take this time-honored advice and put it to use? That is the very question that caused over a year of litigation and a complete standstill in the development of the Village project.

In order to address the zoning problem, WVA and Woodinville entered into a contract called the “Development Agreement.” The agreement was Woodinville’s asking price in exchange for re-zoning, and by consequence, the re-zoning also gave WVA access to the construction loan that it needed in advance of breaking ground. In order to address the traffic problem, WVA and Woodinville entered into a contract called the TRIP (the “Tourist District Roundabout Improvement Project”), which was intended to create a series of three roundabouts near the development with landscaping, sidewalks, and (hopefully) road improvements that would reduce traffic. The TRIP contained a promise by WVA to reimburse Woodinville for a portion of certain improvements made along the perimeter of the property.

Although at first blush, this would appear to be two separate contracts to address two separate problems, it is also possible that the TRIP was really a modification of the Development Agreement, making the entire thing – you guessed it – one stone. A stone that WVA and Woodinville then used to kill two birds.

Please stay tuned for Part 2 — and the thrilling conclusion — of my Woodinville Wine Village update.

(This posting is not to be construed as legal advice. If any of the information in this posting relates to legal issues that you are facing, you should contact an attorney.)

© All rights reserved Kevin Guidry 2014.


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