The owners of Vashon Thriftway have purchased a 4.5-acre parcel in Vashon town, considered the largest piece of vacant, developable land in the town core and zoned for both commercial and multi-family residential development.
Mathews Co. LLC, owners of Vashon Thriftway and the adjacent retail complex, purchased the property from Tom Terry on Dec. 10 for $475,000, according to the King County Assessor’s Office. The property, a wide-open grassy field, is directly behind Vashon Plaza, extending from the back of the shopping center to 103rd Ave. S.W. and abutting S.W. 178th Street.
Norm Mathews, listed as one of one of the managers of the company, could not be reached for comment. His daughter Vicki Mathews, another manger of Mathews Co. LLC, reached Thursday at Thriftway, declined to comment.
Terry, who has owned the property since 1988, said he was pleased with the purchase. “I got what I thought it was worth,” he said.
The property is one parcel that has been divided into two zoning designations: The east half is zoned commercial, while the west side is zoned multi-family. Terry believes an apartment complex with as many as 20 units could be built on the western half of the site.
All told, the property has five water shares assigned to it. Several years ago, Terry applied for another 35 shares. According to Jeff Lakin, manager of the Water District 19, Terry’s application, made shortly before the water-challenged agency placed a moratorium on new shares in place, is toward the end of the agency’s lengthy waiting list.
The property has been for sale off and on for years, and some islanders have eyed it for various potential uses. Emma Amiad, a real estate agent and community activist who helped to found the Interfaith Council to Prevent Homelessness, said she and others involved in the Vashon Social Services Network had thought it would be an ideal site for a consolidation of various social service agencies, creating a one-stop complex for individuals and families.
“I’ve been hoping for this for years and years and years,” she said.
“I see it as an opportunity lost, but of course we don’t know what the new owner wants to do, and it may be wonderful,” she added. “I wish him luck.”
Terry also said he doesn’t know what the Mathews’ plans are for the site. When members of the family first approached him about the site, he said, they were interested in splitting the parcel in two and purchasing only the eastern half, which is zoned commercial. They decided to buy the entire parcel, Terry said, because splitting a parcel in half can be cumbersome and time-consuming.
Terry said he’d be surprised if the Mathews family developed the property any time soon. “If you look at the town core right now, you see a lot of empty buildings. Who’s going to do more commercial development?” he asked.
Shawn Hoffman, meanwhile, who owns Vashon Plaza as well as Vashon Market, the strip mall’s anchor, said he didn’t know about the purchase until he got a call from The Beachcomber. Hoffman recently purchased the store and, with his wife Kathy, is trying to revitalize it.
“It caught me by complete surprise,” he said.
But he’s not concerned, he added, noting that five water shares is not a lot for a property that size. “It’ll be interesting to see what they can do there,” he said.