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Land trust hopes to buy Trillium Woods property
The Whidbey Camano Land Trust has purchased an option to buy 664 acres of the former Trillium Woods property between Freeland and Greenbank.
According to its Web site, the nonprofit organization is trying to raise $4.2 million to purchase the parcel, the largest single-owner piece of forest land remaining on Whidbey Island.
If the purchase is complete, the land would remain a forest and wildlife habitat and a community natural and recreational area under a permanent conservation easement, land trust officials say.
The property was subdivided to contain planned residential developments of more than 120 houses, but that project fell into bankruptcy and was taken over by Snohomish County-based banks late last year.
The banks are trying to sell the property. The Freeland Water and Sewer District recently bought 80 acres to use for an outfall for its proposed sewer system.
Land trust officials say that if its efforts fail, the property likely would be divided and sold to private developers.
They said that adding 120 building lots to the island's already-depressed real estate market would further drive down the value of houses here.
The land trust has until June 10 to raise the $4.2 million to buy the property.
The original 750-acre property, known most recently as Estates at Whidbey, is west of Highway 525 about a mile north of Mutiny Bay Road.
It was being developed by Dogwood Whidbey Development, created by Jesse Molnick and managed by The Molnick Group, his development, investment and brokerage firm based in Arlington.
Molnick fell into default on two loans, one for about $3.3 million, the other about $1.6 million, both from Shoreline Bank.
In the default auction, the bank bid on the property in conjunction with two other banks, North County Bank of Arlington and Coastal Community Bank of Everett.
The land trust said on its Web site that if the purchase of the Trillium property falls through, money raised would be applied to the purchase of other island property eyed for conservation.
For information about the land trust's proposal, visit www.savetheforestnow.org.