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Tacoma company to redevelop old Cavanaugh block

Ever since the Cavanaugh family's plans to redevelop its block on West Main Street fell apart under the finaglings of its business partner, the vacant gravel lot that debacle left behind has been an ugly gap in Auburn's downtown.

But during his annual State of the City address at Emerald Downs on Tuesday, Mayor Pete Lewis surprised the crowd of business and civic leaders with the announcement that Wells Fargo Bank had sold the former Cavanaugh family-owned block to Landmark Development of Tacoma.

The value of the sale, which closes March 11, has not been been made public. Company officials were unavailable for comment Wednesday morning,

But according to the City, the developer's plans call for a six-story building, a mixture of retail on the base facing West Main Street and five floors of apartments above that can be set up for condominiums.

Its plans reportedly include covering the parking garage on the south side of the lot, which is the only part of the defunct Cavanaugh project ever completed.

Of keen interest to merchants in Auburn's moribund downtown, the building upon completion is expected to put an estimated 400 more people in the downtown, day and night.

"It's part of the redevelopment we've been looking for," Lewis said.

According to the its website, the Landmark Group "develops multi-family housing and mixed-use commercial projects through public and private partnerships, from adaptive reuse of historically significant structures to new construction."

The mayor tied the announcement to Spencer Alpert's plans for his sprawling Auburn Junction project between the Sound Transit Station, Main Street and A Street Southeast, just to the west of the old Cavanaugh block.

Alpert's conceptual plan shows a green, mixed-use, urban village with underground parking and walkways, an "upscale commercial and residential dominated project," featuring ground-floor retail and restaurant facilities incorporating open space.

"There are people working all of the remaining catalyst blocks, today, and it looks like we're going to be in a position of choosing, which is a great place to be after all these years," Lewis said

Before learning of its partner Ben Errez' financial wrongdoings, the Cavanaugh family leveled the block to make room for its project. After years of suits and counter suits, the Cavanaugh family lost the property.

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