Costco eyes new parking garage

August 11, 2009

By Warren Kagarise

costco-parking-plans-200908A new parking structure will be built near the Costco corporate headquarters buildings, but city development commissioners attached strings to the development of the five-level garage.

Costco executives and project planners said the garage would provide needed employee parking for the largest employer in Issaquah. Customers visiting the nearby warehouse will not use the structure.

The project will include 1,601 parking stalls spread across five levels, with a below-ground first level and a top level with rooftop parking. The structure will not exceed the height of a three-story building and trees and shrubs will be planted to soften the facade.

The garage will be built on an existing parking lot off Northwest Lake Drive, south of Pickering Barn and north of the Costco Trade Building.

“We want to grow our company, which we’ve been fortunate enough to be able to do quite successfully over the past few years,” said Peter Kahn, Costco development director. “And we want to stay in Issaquah. To do that, we need to have facilities to support that growth. And this is a first step in doing that.”

Costco employs 2,500 people in buildings on its Lake Drive campus and others around Issaquah.

Costco executives will be required to study traffic patterns before and after the structure is built. They will also analyze the effects of the garage on a nearby AM radio tower operated by the city for emergency operations.

“There is some concern on the part of the Emergency Operations Center that a big concrete-and-steel structure so close to their radio tower could affect how its signal is transmitted,” city Senior Planner Mark Pywell said.

A condition imposed by the Development Commission requires Costco to conduct a study of radio transmissions before construction begins and another study before final inspection to ensure the tower is still able to effectively transmit.

“If it fails that, we have to take a step back and see what steps we need to do in order to return the radio signal back to its current operation standard,” Pywell said.

At the Aug. 5 Development Commission meeting, a handful of city residents raised concerns about the scale of the project and the visibility of the garage from nearby Pickering Barn.

Pywell said a trellis and landscaping would be added near the historic city-owned barn to soften views of the garage.

“I can’t emphasize enough that we’ve worked closely with the applicant and the Parks Department to try to come up with a plan that respects the Pickering Barn and also allows the development they need,” Pywell said.

After the meeting, Pywell said the economy would likely determine how Costco executives proceed.

“I think they’re watching the economy and what they’re spending money on right now,” he said.

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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