The City Council has authorized making a $6.1 million offer for the 22-acre-site that has drawn interest from three local colleges for a satellite campus. .
The city of Sammamish hopes to buy the former Mars Hill Church and its 22-acre site for a future community-college satellite campus.
The Sammamish City Council last week authorized a $6.1 million offer on the property after receiving a joint letter of interest from three local colleges, Cascadia, Bellevue and the Lake Washington Institute of Technology.
The colleges, all part of the state community-college system, could offer Running Start courses to high-school students at the site.
“We think there’s a great opportunity,” said Sammamish City Manager Ben Yazici. “Currently kids are driving from here to Bellevue or Cascadia. This would make things easier for them.”
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Three high schools, Eastlake, Skyline and Eastside Catholic, are all within walking distance of the former church property, Yazici said.
He said discussions about the property began shortly after Mars Hill disbanded at the end of 2014. City Council members suggested that a college campus would be a good fit for a highly educated community where many high-school students want convenient access to college classes.
He said the property was originally listed for $8.7 million, but because it is in a residential zone, development opportunities are limited and the price was twice reduced.
Cascadia College President Eric Murray said the property sits on the border of the Bellevue and Cascadia service districts. Currently, Sammamish-area students drive about 10 miles for classes at Bellevue and about 16 to Cascadia, he said.
“If the location were closer, it would be more convenient for students already attending and might encourage more participation,” Murray said. “We think it has the potential to increase college access for students.”
The nonbinding letter of interest from the colleges asks for six months to explore the viability of leasing the space. It also asks the city to contribute to tenant improvements and startup costs.
If the purchase agreement is finalized, the city will pay for the property with existing reserve funds.
The two-story church was originally built by Evergreen Christian Fellowship in 2009. Mars Hill bought it in 2012. The building is almost 31,000 square feet with a parking lot of 330 stalls.