In the Oct. 24 issue of the Sammamish Review, there is a long article about the Sammamish Town Center. A few paragraphs stood out to me.
There’s this, to set the stage:
But even as the council approved a document that lists its first goal as being “catalyze development in Town Center,” several councilmembers openly questioned whether the 2,000 residential units and up to 600,000 square feet of commercial development called for in the Town Center Plan was realistic given the changes in the economy since the plan was approved in 2008 after several years of public meetings.
Councilman Don Gerend questioned whether any developer would bite on the project given the stringent requirements for structured parking and affordable housing in the area. He suggested the council look at loosening them next year, prompting calls of “hear hear” from other council members and the audience.
Gerend has advocated all along for more density and more commercial/retail space, supporting a docket request from John Galvin of the Town Center’s Southeast Quadrant in 2010 that would have boosted space to 1.2 million sf so Galvin and his fellow landowners could get their “proportionate” 300,000 sf in the SE quadrant. The Council rejected the docket request.
Then there is this passage:
Councilman John Curley said he has explained the Town Center Plan to developers who said Sammamish doesn’t have the population density to justify that much commercial development, particularly with so many of its approximately 47,000 residents out of town during the day.
“Unless we put Viagra in the water to get people to start having more children we just don’t have enough people here to justify this thing,” he joked. “You can’t fudge the numbers.”
And finally there is this:
Councilman Ramiro Valderrama pointed out that less than 1 percent of respondents to the recent community survey listed “downtown or Town Center” as the change they’d most like to see to make the city more livable. More than 19 percent listed “more businesses” as the thing the city needed – something promised in the Town Center Plan – though a bit under 17 percent said the city should either restrict development or “slow down the growth.”
One percent want a Town Center and 17 percent want to restrict development or slow growth. (Take note, Don Gerend and John Galvin.) Yes, 19 percent want more businesses, but the ones here in the Regency-owned Pine Lake and Sammamish Highlands shopping centers are already paying sky-high rates and can’t make it. The Mexican restaurant in the Sammamish Highlands just closed. There has been no replacement for Blockbuster, next door. Businesses come and go in Saffron.
And Gerend and Galvin want more space allocation? Who are they kidding? See Curley’s comments above.
Furthermore, Richard Amedei, who was the real estate developer for Safeco who oversaw the Redmond Town Center project at its start, served on the Sammamish Planning Commission and said there wasn’t demand for more than another 400,000 sf of commercial when the plan was created in the economic boom times prior to the global financial collapse. (The plan allows 50% more, 600,000 sf, and could go to 700,000 sf under the Environmental Impact Study before roads become gridlocked.)