Update: Reader Bump is correct in his comment below.
The Docket request filed by some landowners in the Southeast Quadrant in the Sammamish Town Center seeks a general upzoning over the 600,000 sf approved to a total of 1.38 1.98 million sf so the quadrant can have a “proportional” increase from 90,000 sf to 300,000 sf.
The Docket request also proposes a 20% increase in the SE Quadrant residential zoning (from R-15 to R-18), which accounting for the “proportional” request means the total residential units in the TC would increase to 2,400 from 2,000 approved by the City Council in 2008. Another estimated 225 residential units are possible through the proposed transfer of development rights still being prepared by the City staff.
A close reading of the Docket request by this column revealed the true nature of the Docket, which has been represented by the applicants as desiring 300,000 sf of commercial and 144 more residential units than in the approved TC Plan.
John Galvin, one of the applicants, subsequently wrote the local newspapers claiming the applicants were not seeking an increase in the approved 600,000 sf of commercial space but were looking to shift it from other areas within the Town Center.
As noted in another posting, this means that residents who are already counting on developing their properties with the zoning approved by the City Council would lose their development rights to the Galvin group. The posting was written before this column read the Docket request paperwork and discovered the true nature of the application bears no resemblance to the public representations previously made.
The Docket request makes it clear that the applicants really have requested a broad TC commercial increase that nearly approximates is nearly 32% larger than the 1.5 million sf of space offered by the entire Redmond Town Center–which does not include any residential units. Redmond Town Center covers 120 acres while the net buildable area in the Sammamish Town Center covers 100 acres.
The Docket request of 2.3 3.3 times the approved plan would require a new, Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement that probably would take two years to complete the study, public comment and city review process–further holding hostage the landowners who have bitterly complained of the seven-year Town Center process to date. It would also deny the ability to finally proceed with the Town Center, providing new amenities and a sense of place for our City of 40,000 residents.
Such an increase will also mean roads all over the City will fail, requiring tens of millions of dollars of infrastructure expansion. Since by state law, only a developer’s “fair share” can be borne by the developer, this means taxpayers will have to foot the difference if the City Council goes forth with the SE Quadrant application.
The alternative is for the City Council to lower the “level of service” (LOS) standards so that LOS F, or failure, is possible, causing severe traffic congestion and stop-and-go traffic. This, of course, was one of the reasons we incorporated in the first place: the County was allowing traffic to back up as road improvements languished.
The roads that most obviously would be affected are:
- 228th/Sahalee Way
- SE 8th St. east of 228th and West of 218th
- SE 4th St between 228th and 218th
- SE 218th, when the connection is made from SE 4th to the north
- Inglewood Hill Road
- NE 8th east of 228th
- East Lake Sammamish Parkway.
ELSP, which was the subject of enormous controversy, is a marginally-passing LOS road now. Increasing the Town Center commercial density by 2.3 3.3 times will fail several segments of ELSP, requiring either “failure is an option” or expansion of the road at least along the lines of the plans road-side residents fought so hard to block.
Furthermore, the City’s own consultant, Community Attributes, recommended a top-end of 575,000 sf of commercial for the Town Center as economically viable. The City Council topped this slightly by approving 600,000 sf.
Richard Amidei, a former Planning Commissioner who retired from the development company that created the Redmond Town Center, believes Sammamish’s Town Center can support only 400,000 sf of commercial space.
Additionally, approving 1.38 1.98m sf for the Town Center would almost certainly harm the businesses in the Safeway and QFC commercial areas and it would absolutely eliminate the prospect of redeveloping these areas into more attractive commercial districts, both visually and commercially. The greater danger, of course, is the commercial harm that will be done to our existing businesses by having the near-equivalent of Redmond Town Center as our Town Center.