Bastyr University would like to have a campus along Everett's riverfront. But the school of natural-health sciences, now in a former Roman...

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Bastyr University would like to have a campus along Everett’s riverfront.

But the school of natural-health sciences, now in a former Roman Catholic seminary along Lake Washington in Kenmore, has presented some major issues it says would need to be resolved before it could expand to have a presence on a vacant 100-acre property the city owns next to the Snohomish River.

Among them are that the school would prefer to use the entire property, once the site of a Simpson sawmill and a garbage dump, through a purchase or long-term lease.

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The school also has set out conditions it says the city must meet before much progress could be made toward developing an Everett campus.

Those conditions include forming a permanent Community Health Council and developing a community health-and-wellness plan.

Bastyr officials also say the Everett property isn’t their only priority. They are seeking a new president and money to buy their present campus.

Yet the school underscores that it would like to have an Everett campus.

“I think what we’re trying to do is balance the possibilities for Everett and Snohomish County and also be realistic about what we can undertake,” said Sandi Cutler, Bastyr’s vice president for institutional planning and public affairs. “We’re talking about what we can do together.”

None of the school’s conditions was unexpected.

“Our hope would be once a development team is chosen, those folks would work with Bastyr,” said Kate Reardon, Everett’s public-information director.

“Who knows what it might look like? I think there still is an opportunity to figure out what the best fit is for Bastyr.”

Mayor Ray Stephanson said a Bastyr role in Everett still is likely.

“At the end of the day, all those issues will be negotiable,” said Stephanson, adding that the school’s possible use of the entire site was largely discussed to demonstrate the college’s strong commitment to the city. “As we move ahead on our riverfront, they’re definitely in our plans.”

Defining Bastyr’s potential role in Everett has absorbed several years and various options, including moving its entire campus.

“We looked at that, and for a whole lot of reasons, it just wasn’t practical,” Cutler said. “The question was how to keep it moving forward and not raise expectations beyond what’s possible.”

Such questions are expected to be worked out in coming months as the city chooses a developer for the property.

Cutler estimated that about a decade might be needed to develop a campus on the site.

The stakes in attracting a tenant such as Bastyr are considerable. Community leaders frequently mention a four-year college as a top priority for Snohomish County.

Bastyr is an educational success story. It started with 31 students in 1978 and has about 1,300 at the Kenmore campus studying toward bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in natural health and applied behavioral sciences. It has been particularly successful in attracting public and private funding recently. It offers a 13,000-volume library, a vegetarian cafeteria and a medicinal-herb garden.

In Everett, Bastyr would possibly open a branch campus with 500 to 600 students and make an investment of “easily $50 million to $60 million,” Cutler said.

The school’s preference to occupy the entire site could make it difficult to incorporate the city’s vision of using part of the property for a mix of retail businesses and housing.

But Cutler said he is optimistic. “The reception we got in Everett was nothing short of spectacular,” he said of visits to the city in the past several months. “People very much want a health-and-wellness facility.”

Peyton Whitely: 206-464-2259 or