By Jack Stubbs
Developable land is at a premium throughout the Puget Sound region, and as the region continues to expand, development companies are beginning to look further afield.
On Wednesday, August 8th, Texas-based residential and mixed-use development company Forestar Group Inc. acquired nearly 80 acres of vacant land in Monroe, Washington, for $14.2 million, according to public documents filed with Snohomish County. The seller of the land was LSA Engineering, an engineering, planning and development company based in Lynnwood. The transaction was recorded on August 17th.
The buyer did not respond to calls for comment in time for the publishing of this story and the seller declined to comment about the transaction.
The sale was for 79.32 acres of vacant undeveloped land, according to public documents. There is no specified address for the property. However, public records indicate that the property is close to the intersection of U.S. Highway 2 and Roosevelt Road. Monroe is approximately 35 miles northeast of Seattle, 20 miles northeast of Redmond and within a couple miles of access to Washington State Route 522.
Founded in 1955, Forestar Group conducts a wide range of project planning and management activities relating to the acquisition, entitlement, development and sale of single-family and mixed-use communities, according to the company’s web site. As of March 31st, 2018, the company owned—directly or through ventures—interest in 42 residential and mixed-use projects across 10 states and 18 markets. Forestar is primarily focused on mixed-use master plan communities and the development of first and second move-up housing, which is the largest section of the new home construction market.
Forestar’s acquisition of the 80 acres in Monroe follows on the heels of another land acquisition at the beginning of this year. In January 2018, the company acquired 19 parcels of vacant land in Lake Stevens for $14.4 million from KR-N9 LLC.
Originally founded in 1977, LSA has maintained its focus on providing resources necessary for successful land development projects and provides a range of surveying and engineering services to public, private and non-profit communities, according to the company’s web site. Some of LSA’s commercial properties in the Puget Sound region include the Woodhaven Veterinary Clinic and Keybank location in Edmonds and the Northpointe Retail Center in Lynnwood.
Elsewhere throughout the Puget Sound region, there have been several transitions involving vacant land over the course of 2018. In late January 2018, Woodinville-based general contractor Sierra Construction Company acquired five parcels of vacant land in Mountlake Terrace for $13 million from Triad Development Inc. In mid-February, North Carolina-based Hancock Forest Management sold 56 parcels of vacant land in Pierce County to Oregon-based Beutler Exchange Group LLC for $73 million. In mid-March, Richmond American Homes acquired 138 parcels of vacant land in Edgewood—with development plans in the works—from Bellevue-based Conner Homes for $21.7 million.
More recently, on July 31st, 2018, Federal Way-based homebuilder Lennar Northwest acquired 74 acres of vacant in Maple Valley for $10 million from William Ruth. Lennar has plans in the works for the site, according to the city of Maple Valley’s web site. In early 2017, a Notice of Application and SEPA DNS (Determination of Non-Significance) was filed for one of the parcels included in the recent transaction. Entitled Rainier Ridge Preliminary Plat, the notice includes the proposal to subdivide a 14-acre site into 72 lots for the construction of single-family dwelling units.