Gilman Square plan could add 340 residences

October 22, 2013

By Peter Clark

Contributed This architectural drawing shows the three building proposed for a redeveloped Gilman Square.

This architectural drawing shows the three building proposed for a redeveloped Gilman Square.

A pre-application for three five-story buildings at Gilman Square could mark the first test of the Central Issaquah Plan.

Developer Lennar Multifamily Investors wishes to turn the 6.7-acre site, the home of Lombardi’s Restaurant until it shut its doors in July, into a large residential location. They entered talks with the city in September before submitting a pre-application in early October.

The proposed development of more than 340 new multifamily residences will introduce a population of close to 650.

The developers believe the location — in the heart of central Issaquah and on the banks of Issaquah Creek — will attract many residents.

“Despite the many site restrictions imposed by the proximity to Issaquah Creek and the adjacent low-rise commercial development, the property is ideal for a medium-density residential development allowed within this zoning district,” the developers wrote in the pre-application. “Creating a pedestrian character to the existing roads and introducing pedestrian paths across the site builds upon the vision of the ‘Green Necklace’ network.”

“We’re currently waiting for them to resubmit,” Development Services Department Project Oversight Manager Christopher Wright said, mentioning some concerns the city had about the pre-application.

The city desired a re-evaluation of aspects such as the location of some parking, drainage ditch sizes and street front appearance.

“It was nothing really earth-shattering,” Wright said, adding that he was optimistic about talks moving forward.

The Development Services Department has made an attempt over the past year to overhaul the permitting process in an interest of making it more streamlined and developer friendly. The Lennar Multifamily Investors plan could be the first to go through that process and provide valuable user experience for the city.

“Things are really going forward, though, we are just really in the early stages,” Wright said. “It’s notable. It could be the first big one in central Issaquah.”

Last year, the City Council adopted the Central Issaquah Plan, a long-term vision to redevelop the sprawling city center area into a sustainable, multi-use zone. Early on, Economic Development Department Director Keith Niven said the Gilman Square landowner was anxious to redevelop the property.

“The property owner put his property on the market before the CIP standards were even adopted,” Niven said. “Pretty much almost immediately, we started having developers ask about the property and what could be done there.”

Lennar’s idea for how to use the land is notable as it is the first of what the city expects to be a decadeslong re-imagining of central Issaquah. However, the pre-application might not fit the specific vision of the city.

“The plans they came in with were residential,” Niven said. “The city asked them if they would consider mixed-use on the property, but they felt like the city had adequate retail.”

Niven was not deterred, saying the CIP does not require developers to plan mixed-use buildings.

“You have to put all the pieces together,” he said. “There are a number of goals in the CIP, including bringing in residential with the nonresidential. Over 400-some people would be moved into the area and that’s great.”

While the developer finds value in the land’s proximity to the Issaquah Creek, it comes with another hurdle for redevelopment. The property floods often. Senior Planner Jerry Lind said the developer was aware and included considerations of the creek in the design.

“It does get wet out there when it rains,” Lind said. “They are developing the building with that in mind.”

Lind, the primary contact between Lennar Multifamily Investors and the city, did not have a schedule for the proposed redevelopment, but said it would go before residents before construction began.

“There is no timeline, unfortunately,” he said. “We’ve just been in the collaboration stages at this point. Eventually, this will go through the public hearing process.”

Lennar Multifamily Investors declined to comment until it finishes a feasibility analysis.





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13 Responses to “Gilman Square plan could add 340 residences”

  1. Smoley on October 23rd, 2013 7:51 am

    Where are 340 new residents going to park? I suppose they could build underground parking, but I wouldn’t want my car in that garage when the nearby creek begins to flood.

    Additionally, if the city wants the developer to build mixed-use (i.e. retail on the ground floor) shoppers/customers begin to compete with the residents’ and their guests for parking spaces. We already have parking problems in Issaquah and to think that people are going to want to live in a suburb like Issaquah without a car is simply laughable. I’m counting the months until pay parking shows up in our town.

    Of course our city planners have this dream that people are going to want to live here without cars. Yeah, right. Ever had a look at traffic on Front Street in the afternoon?

    Once more this just demonstrates that our current city government doesn’t understand what people want, and instead will force us into what they feel we need (the plastic bag ordinance is another example). It’s a nanny state mindset that we don’t need. Where’s my ballot?

  2. Mike on October 23rd, 2013 10:16 am

    Just what Issaquah needs more traffic on and off the freeways and through downtown. Our traffic planners already are the worst in the area and we are going to add more to the problem BRILLIANT!!!

  3. Tom on October 23rd, 2013 4:36 pm

    Dear Mr Clark,
    Thank you for your informative story about the possibility of adding 340 residences to the Gilman Square property site. This proposal would not be in the best interests of the City of Issaquah unless all they care about is property tax revenue. Do we want to add high density housing in an area with existing traffic problems, a delicate and sensitive creek for our salmon run, and limited parking for our businesses? Keep the high density housing in the Highlands and preserve the character of Central Issaquah.

  4. Tim on October 23rd, 2013 4:40 pm

    Lombardi’s closed? Why can’t a restaruant stay open in the Issaquah lowlands?

    And I agree with others; you’re going to put another 340 to likely 500 cars that need to get on/off Gilman?

    Finally, I see what good ol’ Issaquah has done (or not done) with traffic planning in the highlands and the addition of a theatre, sporting goods store, supermarket, gas station, BevMo, etc….traffic is horrendous up there and it’s only getting worse.

    Please, Issy traffic planners…go back to school and take a course update.

  5. Sally Montgomery on October 23rd, 2013 8:25 pm

    “Plans are going forward.” Of course they will. There are no city planners. They are developers and they don’t care. Giving Rowleyville permission for ten story buildings was the beginning. You have a city council that is led by a growth advocate and the one coming up is too. Never mind the stress on the roads, water levels, creek and people. At least cut the number down to only semi intrusive.

    But don’t ever expect the town governors to follow the wishes of Issaquah’s residents.

  6. IssyResident on October 23rd, 2013 10:01 pm

    No plan for parking.
    No plan for the additional traffic on surface streets, other than the delusional idea that these people will walk.
    No plan for getting cars on/off I-90. Has anyone on the council tried to get onto I-90 west in the AM around here?
    No plan to increase school capacity.
    No plan for parks.

    The CIP is a money-grab by the city and developers. Nothing more. People who live in neighborhoods around this area are getting screwed. That this debacle got passed is a travesty.

  7. signe on October 23rd, 2013 10:48 pm

    I certainly hope any eventual buildings that may be approved are not the same as those in the drawing. The buildings look like something from “The Office.” They have no character; and should we allow this type of monolithic project, let’s make sure it is high-end, has well planned green space, and withstands the test of time.

  8. Wes on October 24th, 2013 12:36 am

    Umm in most cases the retail and residential parking have separate entrances. I don’t think they’re expecting everyone will go carless because of one development, but rather that after several similar developments households will be able to use their cars less or even sell one of them. In most of seattles suburbs you can get by fine with one car per household. The pockets where carlessness is a legitimate possibility are expanding too. I lived fine without a car in Redmond. The only problem was that it was boring. A car couldn’t make Redmond a fun place to live, so I moved to seattle.

  9. Jill on October 24th, 2013 10:30 am

    I now understand why the owner of the property is being such a jerk to all the neighbors and especially Blue Dog, and the city is going along with it. Unfortunate frankly. Area floods, the traffic patterns don’t support it and we are forcing out small businesses that make up Issaquah.

  10. Monica on October 24th, 2013 1:17 pm

    It really boils down to traffic and parking. This plan is going in the wrong direction for both issues. I agree with the above, to think that people will want to live in Issaquah without owning a vehicle is laughable.

  11. Smoley on October 24th, 2013 7:07 pm


    Lombardi’s was forced to close because the property owner didn’t allow them to renew their lease on the restaurant building.

    More here:

    Issaquah isn’t Seattle and will never be Seattle (or Bellevue, for that matter), regardless of what our city planners envision. Most people live here with families, pets, and enjoy their yards. They actually like the freedom provided by owning a car. Apparently our city government doesn’t want that demographic in our town any longer and would rather have citizens crammed together in ugly stacked boxes relying on some form of public transportation.
    What works for the single urbanite 20-somethings in Seattle isn’t attractive to folks that choose to live in the suburbs. The people that currently live in Issaquah chose to live here because of what the city is today, not what is about to happen under the unbridled growth suggested by the Central Issaquah Plan. I have to think the only reason it’s being pitched here is simply to increase the tax base. It certainly isn’t being done to improve the quality of life in Issaquah.

  12. Issy Resident on October 25th, 2013 10:07 am

    This is a great place for this development. As long as they have suitable parking and plan adequately for the creek, then this will be a big boon to local business and places like Lombardi’s wouldn’t have closed.

    Traffic issues are secondary as our biggest traffic problems center around the May Valley/ Hobart roads as out of towners abuse our highway access. Don’t limit our growth because they pack our roads non-stop day and night.

  13. Cory on October 26th, 2013 4:46 pm

    This is the last thing Issaquah needs. Traffic has already become horrendous and is losing it’s charm. You seen Redmond lately? Please do let Issaquah become the new downtown Redmond.

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