Town Center Phase I details revealed: 424 homes on 13.5 Acres; blocked by concurrency

By Miki Mullor

  • STCA LLC, the largest landowner in the Town Center, files its first permit application
  • The development site is between SE 4th and the Lower Commons park
  • City Manager recently said the development will likely fail the current concurrency
  • Valderrama advocates for STCA to relax concurrency
Largest development project in Sammamish

STCA LLC, headed by Matt Samwick, filed its first building permit application on April 4. The Sammamish Comment obtained the application materials with a Public Records Request.

This development is by far the largest development project ever built in Sammamish.  

The building site of 13.5 acres is located south of SE 4th St. and borders the Lower Commons Park.  It will include 414 townhomes and apartments, 10 single family homes and 82,000 SF of commercial space.  Of the total 424 dwelling units, 81 units will be affordable housing.

Town Center Phase I – Site Plan

Details of the blocks enumerated in the diagram above are:

  • Block 1 – 10 single family homes (6,318 sf lots), 33 townhomes (3-4 stories)
  • Block 2 – 33 townhomes, 4 stories
  • Block 3 – 24 townhomes, 4 stories
  • Block 4 – 24 townhomes, 4 stories
  • Block 5 – 160 apartments, 6 stories, 14,000 sf retail, 8,000 sf restaurants
  • Block 6 – 140 apartments, 6 stories, 12,000 sf retail, 8,000 sf restaurants
  • Block 7 – 30,000 sf retail anchor, 10,000 sf restaurants, 240 underground parking spaces

In total, 424 homes and 82,000 sf of commercial.

For comparison, Met Market store size is 35,000 sf.  The entire “Sammamish Village” commercial area (Tanoor, offices, Met Market) is 111,000 sf.

Phase I in context

This project is Phase I of STCA’s plans for the Town Center sub area.  The map below, taken from the City’s Town Center plan, depicts where STCA 13.5 acres Phase I is located in context to the rest of the Town Center.   In total, STCA owns 77 acres in the Town Center area..

Net new growth – not “absorbed” growth

Town Center Phase I density is about 40 dwelling units per acre, which is the high-end of the 16-40 Dwelling Units per acre allowed by code in that area.

(For comparison, Klahanie has 3,200 homes on 884 acres, an average of 3.2 homes per acre).

Looking at the developer’s density calculation, what stands out is the zero use of “City of Sammamish TDR program.”

TDRs – Transfer Development Rights – are the mechanism to reduce sprawl by sending growth from parts of the city into the Town Center:

Indeed, over the years and recently, local politicians justified the Town Center high density with the argument that it will protect the environment in other parts of the city, by “focusing” development in the Town Center.

Most recently, Council Members Pam Stuart and Jason Ritchie argued this point in favor of the Town Center.  As we wrote in an editorial and in this report – that was a myth.

Indeed, STCA could not and have not “absorbed” any growth in its Phase I application, contradicting Stuart and Ritchie’s “save the environment” argument.

Concurrency in the way

The Comment previously reported that on February 19, Interim City Manager Larry Patterson told the City Council that staff is looking for small improvements project on Sahalee Way so the Town Center Phase I and other small development projects can pass the current concurrency.

These proposed fixes include:

  • Remove 42nd barrier
  • Build strategic bus pullouts along 228th
  • Build a turn pocket at 37th
  • Build strategic extensions to 227th
  • Improve the 228th corridor
  • Add median barrier from 12th to 42nd
  • Build climbing lane on Sahalee Way

It is not yet known whether those fixes will make a difference for concurrency.  Until then, Town Center Phase I cannot move forward.

Valderrama advocates for STCA
Ramiro Valderrama

STCA, the Town Center developer, has been actively trying to convince the public to relax concurrency, so to allow more development and let Town Center Phase I go through.

Below is an email from Kevin Jones, STCA’s traffic engineer, that was sent to City Council, arguing the adopted concurrency is flawed.

Council Member Ramiro Valderrama has been forwarding this email to residents as part of his efforts to relax concurrency.

Valderrama takes the position of the developer’s engineer, lending it credibility by arguing that the City or of any of its consultants had not “challenged” the developer’s assertions.

The letter was presented as a public comment. Public comments are not normally challenged by the City.

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28 thoughts on “Town Center Phase I details revealed: 424 homes on 13.5 Acres; blocked by concurrency

  1. Glad to see we are moving ahead on Phase I look forward to Phase II. We should consider going back to the old concurrency standards. We will spend millions of dollars on the new standards and do nothing to reduce congestion. Transit is important but lets not put the bus before the building.

    • Yet another misrepresentation of facts by this opinion blog. First I do not “advocate” for any one party. I represent and advocate for Sammamish. It would be helpful to readers of this blog to have a full picture. I have always been committed to transparency in government, and transparency begins through dialogue and provision of full information to citizens. It is disappointing that this opinion blog did not include the full documents that I shared with the citizens in Sahalee, along with the background that led to the Sahalee discussions. Citizens should be able to read for themselves the documents from Don Gerend and Mr. Jones, and also view the related Council discussions on the topic. I am happy to have a dialogue with any residents on any topic.

      While the opinion blog might prefer that I only share his point of view with citizens—that is not being fully transparent. Citizens have a right to know how their government decisions can potentially impact them.

      The opinion blog also failed to mention that the Council has unanimously three times in 2018 voted to support the Town Center as designed. Nor that the Council also voted to take the Town Center out of the Moratorium via the Memo of understanding. All the Council has continued to support the Town Center.
      Nor mentioned is that the Council Unanimously supported the Level of Service at Intersections Concurrency.

      • Councilmember Valderrama’s incumbency is itself dispositive of his unspoken contention that Sammamish residents are oblivious to smoke and mirrors. It’s pretty insulting, nevertheless.

        His bald-faced assertion that advocacy is not advocacy suggests he’s more a student of Orwell than of Schrodinger.

  2. Looks like a solid, well thought out plan, that incorporates a good mix of residential product, commercial and retail. Creates a central ‘City Square’ with a direct link to a large open space in ‘Lower Commons’. A central commercial area surrounding a community gathering space that links to all the park space. Appears to be what was envisioned when the City of Sammamish envisioned the creation of a ‘Town Center’. And even though this is ‘Phase One’ for this development group, this is really ‘Phase Two’ of what has been developed west of 228th with the Metropolitan Market, Sky View apartments, and the other commercial, retail and office space. Time to move forward with this second phase.

    • The article is accurate. 0 units came from within the city. The TDRs from king county came from Patterson Creek – a land that is owned by the county, cannot be developed on given steeps slopes. and for each TDR sold – the developer got 5x units.

  3. So in return for not developing land that could never be developed anyways in King County, STCA gets to add 57 extra units right in the middle of Town Center?

      • The original owner of the land that The density credits came from was Washington State DNR conservation unit. They then sold the land to King County who sold it to STCA to conserve it and create the credits. King County allows Net density calculations and under their TDR code they can then multiply the density by 2 and then again by 5 when transferred to A zone. The question here is if the land was already being conserved as Wetland by the State how does this create the need to create 57 additional units at towncenter?

  4. Question: As part of this deal, what is the obligation, financial or otherwise, for STCA to contribute towards infrastructure (roads), parks, and schools? What is Sammamish getting in return aside from 424 new homes?

  5. So, we are going to let the developers destroy what very little livability remains and Sammamish? Let’s see how the rough math works on this: 424 homes equals 848 cars, and that roughly equals 1200 car trips going down South East 4th. Add in a few teenagers and the car trips go up. All of those cars going to work going down to South East 4th Hill to 228th stack up for 100 yards. Add a little snow or black ice and we have quite the situation for the Emergency responders. All of those cars coming home headed north on 228th trying to make the turn onto South East 4th back up 228th all the way past the library.
    424 homes means we need how many new classrooms and a new Wing at the library that’s already full? 424 homes means how many new police officers? 424 homes means how many more new buses are we going to get? (0) 424 homes means what percentage property tax increase to pay for everything that the developers get for free?

    I know this is all rough numbers being thrown around, but you can figure it out pretty quick: The developers rake in the cash and we get holding the sh****ity end of the stick — this is the real story of Sammamish and its fake “best place to live”. Kiss your livability goodbye….

    • I have struggled with the logic/fairness of the following for decades:
      Why do developers pay a relatively small amount in impact fees for their huge developments and profits while the *existing* residents are forced to make up the difference in big property tax increases? Where is the benefit to the existing residents? (More traffic, congestion, packed schools, terrible drives do NOT count as benefits.)
      Explain the logic to me please why existing residents always get stuck with the bill? Seriously – I would like to understand. Thank you

  6. What an absolute nightmare. Are members of city council getting kickbacks from developers or are they just naturally inclined to turning Sammamish into a hellhole? Nobody moved to Sammamish to experience life in high-density gridlock, that’s what Seattle is for.

    Make Sammamish Great Again! Vote these jokers out.

  7. They should have a nice school in here like a Primrose. I know they are interested in Sammamish. You can’t keep adding housing and not have childcare and early learning services for working families.

    • IMO, childcare and learning/schools are another part of Infrastructure. And we all know that infrastructure always comes last (if at all) *after* the developers are finished and have gone on their way (to the bank first!)

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