Commissioners question proposed medical building

July 7, 2009

By Warren Kagarise

A developer has proposed construction of the 43,000-square-foot Issaquah Medical Building on land just north of westbound Interstate 90. Contributed

A developer has proposed construction of the 43,000-square-foot Issaquah Medical Building on land just north of westbound Interstate 90. Contributed

Before developers can begin work on a proposed medical building, designers must soften the “fortresslike” facade and ensure easy access to the site, city development commissioners said.

The planned Issaquah Medical Building would be a 43,000-square-foot, three-level structure with a two-level parking garage. Plans call for the building to be constructed on about two acres at the former Zetec Inc. property — a wedge of land between westbound I-90 and Pickering Trail. The planned I-90 Undercrossing will be built just east of the site.

Commissioners discussed the Issaquah Medical Building proposal July 1. Developers must address questions raised by commissioners before applying for development permits.City Senior Planner Christopher Wright told commissioners the undercrossing would improve access to the medical building property. Commissioners told representatives of property owner 224th Ave. LLC that construction of the oft-delayed undercrossing would be critical. The undercrossing will link Northwest Gilman Boulevard to Southeast 56th Street.

“Are we going to end up having a building that doesn’t have access?” Commissioner Carl Swedberg asked.

Developers plan to link the site to the surrounding street grid.

“I can assure you, I can’t get financing and I can’t get tenants unless I’ve got a road in to the building,” said Bob Power, a representative of the property owner. “We’re building that road ourselves from the northern end of our property to the southern end of our property.”

Plans call for a building height of 64 feet — 24 feet higher than the allowed 40 feet for the site. Developers will be exempted from the height limit by constructing a building with setbacks and creating additional open space on the property.

Other concerns with the Issaquah Medical Building related to aesthetics. Commissioners asked designers to punctuate the expansive parking structure with landscaping.

Commissioner Melvin Morgan praised the design, but raised issues about the entryway to the building. He said although people would enter the building through the parking structure, the main entrance should be easier to locate.

“I think it’s a very attractive building,” Morgan said. “The one thing that I think — I would agree with staff — that might need more addressing is the entryway and some enhancement there. Since most of the site is made up of a parking garage that I think could end up looking somewhat fortresslike from the street level, that main entrance there — even though a lot of people are going to enter from inside the building — I still think it needs to be enhanced more to look even more inviting and more prominent.”

Reach Reporter Warren Kagarise at 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment on this story at www.issaquahpress.com.

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