City should help finance, kick-start Town Center

One of the issues facing the City Council as it begins its review of the regulations for the Town Center is whether to help finance elements of it to kick-start development.

This issue is not part of the Planning Commission’s regulations recommendations that will be under review beginning March 15 (see following post); this issue was deemed by the Commission to be beyond its scope of work.

As a former member of the Commission, and a long-time activist regarding land use and traffic issues, I was of the opinion going into the Town Center regulations process in early 2008 that the City should not contribute to financing TC stuff–this should fall to the responsibility of the developers under the “growth pays its own way” theory.

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Council begins Town Center regulations review

The City Council will begin reviewing the regulations recommended by the Planning Commission for the Town Center at its meeting Monday, March 15. This is a study session, so it will not be televised or recorded for subsequent posting on the City’s website. (The policy of not televising study sessions is a poor one, but this might be a topic for another time.)

The regulations include design guidelines, storm water control, setbacks, sign codes, building heights, parking requirements, permitted uses, buffer requirements, affordable housing and more. The Staff proposes an ambitious schedule to complete Council review by the end of June, after which applications can be accepted to begin development.

The regulations are fairly prescriptive and very detailed and some of them will generate controversy, such as the requirements for parking structures and affordable housing.

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Redeveloping Pine Lake Center

As the Sammamish City Council proceeds with its review of the regulatory recommendations from the Planning Commission for the Town Center, the debate at the February 16 Council meeting included discussion about a sub-area plan for the Pine Lake (QFC) Center.

Council Members Mark Cross, John Curley, Tom Odell and Michele Petitti spoke in favor of sub-area planning for Pine Lake as the preferred next-step rather than re-opening the Town Center Plan to accommodate a Docket Request by some landowners of the SE Quadrant to triple the commercial development in their quadrant and increase residential density by a third.

The four council members saw the merits in exploring creation of a transit-oriented development over the park-and-ride (“A” in the photo below the fold) at Pine Lake as well as the prospect for redevelopment.

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Council nixes steroid Town Center Plan

The City Council last night (Feb. 16) voted 5-2 against the plan by some landowners in the SE Quadrant to add a Docket Request in increase the commercial density in their quadrant to 300,000 sf from 90,000 sf and to add about 300 residential units to their allocation.

They back-peddled from their request that the entire Town Center be upzoned so that they would get their “proportionate” increase after this column read their Docket request closely and discovered what they were truly asking for was 2 million sf in commercial zoning throughout the entire Town Center and a 28% increase in residential zoning, or an additional 540 units across the entire Town Center.

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Galvin supported 45,000 sf for his quadrant, praised plan

John Galvin, one of the landowners in the Town Center’s Southeast Quadrant who is asking for a 2 million square feet upzoning for the entire Town Center and 300,000 sf in his quadrant, supported the “preferred alternative” approved by the 2007 City Council–which provided for 45,000 sf of commercial space in his quadrant.

Galvin also praised the five year process that led to the Preferred Alternative.

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Council to decide on 2m sf Town Center request Feb. 16

The City Council is scheduled to decide this Tuesday, February 16, on whether to grant a Docket Application to amend the Comprehensive Plan to provide for 2 million square feet of commercial space and a 20% increase in residential zoning for the new Town Center.

The two posts that follow this one explain all that needs to be explained.

No further Town Center upzoning needed

The Planning Commission will hand over to the City Council on Feb. 9 the recommended regulations to implement the Town Center Plan adopted by the Council in 2008. The Plan calls for development of 600,000 sf of commercial space and 2,000 residential units.

The Town Center straddles 228th Ave. with the geographic center at SE 4th and 228th. The TC is in four quadrants, two on each side of 228th. The Eastside is assigned 180,000 sf of commercial (office/retail) and the Westside has 320,000 sf of which 90,000 sf is immediately adjacent City Hall and the new Library–forming a cluster next to the developing Sammamish Commons. The other Westside commercial-retail, amounting to 230,000 sf is clustered on SE 4th at about 220th to form the “core” commercial/retail center, on the north side of Sammamish Commons.

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