Following the start of construction at Kent’s downtown “The Platform” development in June, Ben Wolters, the city’s economic and community development director, appeared at the Sept. 20 Kent Downtown Partnership breakfast to brief attendees on its progress.

So far, plain and simple, construction has been quick.

“Progress is fast and will get very furious here,” said Wolters. “The framers have arrived, and they are busy. Already, you can see the second floor – and that is wood frame construction – start to rise … If you ever watch framers, it takes a little while to get going, and then they hit the groove. That’s just going to start rising up in a surprisingly fast fashion.”

Seattle development firm Goodman Real Estate bought the nearly 1.750-acre property, located at Fourth Avenue North and West Smith Street, earlier this year. The company paid the City of Kent $902,000 – with the cost of demolition, the total cost was about $1.2 million – and proceeded to commence building on a five-story, 176-unit apartment building with 3,100 square feet of retail on the street level.

Goodman CEO George Petrie called the project “pioneering” in June, given the lack of similar living areas in downtown Kent.

“It’s our first ‘urban style’ apartment building in downtown Kent,” Wolters said. “By that, what I mean is the commercial below and housing above. It’s truly a mixed-use project, along with secure parking – not surface parking, but a garage. This is a new experience, and Goodman feels positively and strongly that they’ll be able to fill (the development).

“It will be targeted toward both the commuter taking the Sounder to Seattle for work in the morning and to many of the people who work in downtown Kent, whether at the courthouse or Kent Station or the law firms that are around here,” continued Wolters, who added the development is slated to start marketing at the start of summer next year.

The site has had a rocky history, dating back to 2006 and previous developer Ben Errez of Bellevue’s Plan B Development. Plan B had begun construction on a parking garage that was set to be part of a mixed-use condo and retail project; work on that project, however, stopped in 2007 after the lender withheld funds.

The City of Kent took control of the property in 2010 and tore the garage down. Its foundation, however, remained, and has contributed to the speed of the current construction project, according to Wolters.

And while that residual “gift” from the previous developer was a small step in rehabilitating the site’s image in the eyes of the City, Wolters is confident that, once construction on the Platform is complete,  it will signal a leap in Kent’s mission to redevelop its downtown core as a “liveable” community.

“That’s going to bring a lot of new residents to our downtown, new customers to our downtown businesses – a new committed group to this community,” he said. “We’re really looking forward to it.”