Concerns about the future of Bothell Country Village top the agenda of the city’s Landmark Preservation Board meeting Tuesday evening.
Part of the property has already been redeveloped. A builder has applied for permits to demolish two remaining century-old buildings that stand near the entrance of the quirky shopping center. Urbane Village II has plans to soon replace all of Bothell Country Village with town homes.
Still Open For Business
For now, the Country Village is still open for business and likely has another full year ahead. Scheduled events extend through December. It has been a destination for families for decades, a little-known treasure that some have called a suburban version of Seattle’s Pike Place Market.
It’s well-known for a grassy pond and playground in the center of farming and railroad memorabilia, surrounded by crafty independent shops and businesses as well as free-roaming ducks and roosters and a statue of a huge chicken out front. All of this is connected by wood-framed structures and boardwalks that convey nostalgia for the farming heritage that once was the heart of Bothell’s economy.
But the property is family-owned, and the patriarch who built it up has been in poor health. So they decided to sell.
Sentimental Value And Historic Significance
The buildings in question are not registered landmarks, but they are listed as eligible. That means the developer is required to consider options to demolition, said Jeff Smith, Development Services Manager with the City of Bothell.
“We’re very cognizant of the sentimental value of Country Village to our community,” Smith said, adding that there is no particular timeline that the City of Bothell is aware of at this point for when the remaining parts of the village will be torn down.
The developer told KNKX they are in the process of applying for permits, with a target of closing the village next spring.
But Smith says this timeline has not been formally communicated to the city.
“And we’re taking all the time necessary to get it right – within the context of what we have to deal with. And that is a private decision to develop private property, between two parties,” Smith said.
Smith says alternatives to demolition range from re-designing the development plan and leaving the buildings in place to simply providing thorough photo documentation of what’s being torn down before the wrecking balls do their work. There’s also a chance the structures could be preserved and relocated, which has been done with some historic Bothell buildings in the past.
The city cannot force the developer's hand, because nothing at Country Village is registered as a landmark. But Smith says, according to Bothell’s code, because the buildings are listed in the city’s inventory as eligible for landmark status, the developer has to justify its choices in conversation with the city. And he says this conversation is an opportunity for the community to convey its values.
“The buildings clearly have some historical significance,” Smith said.
He says the landmark preservation board is strictly an advisory panel, but sometimes information comes out in the course of conversation with a developer that can convince them to alter their plans.
The buildings proposed for demolition are the Ericksen House and its Carriage House. They currently house Ye Olde Whitehouse Antiques and Candy Shoppe and are on the edge of the village, just north of the famous giant chicken sculpture. According to the city, they were once part of a large farmstead, occupied by early Bothell pioneers Gerhard Ericksen and Dorothea C. Love Ericksen between 1913 and 1920.
There is a public hearing at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday City Hall in Bothell as part of the landmark preservation board’s meeting.