Gilman Square redevelopment plan raises retail worries
November 19, 2013
By Peter Clark
Requiring retail development might be discussed in the Central Issaquah Plan’s first progress report.
Still in the beginning phases, the redevelopment of Gilman Square into three five-story residential buildings has raised questions on the City Council due to the plan’s lack of retail space.
Though the city asked several times for developer Lennar Multifamily Investors to allow for bottom-floor retail space, Lennar declined, opting to proceed with its vision to build 340 new residences on the site.
“I had concerns about that and I’m not the only one in the public domain,” Councilwoman Stacy Goodman said in the Nov. 12 Land and Shore Committee meeting.
The Central Issaquah Plan is meant to serve as a future vision for a denser area on the valley floor, replacing the spread-out nature of parking lots and strip malls with mid-rise housing and retail. Goodman said she wanted to begin a conversation with the administration on what steps could be taken in the future if developers remain unwilling to build mixed-use spaces.
“During the entire Central Issaquah Plan development plan, we were repeatedly concerned and comforted that we weren’t locked into the plan and that we could change it,” she said. “What would the process look like if we wanted to take a look at adding a mixed-used requirement in the Central Issaquah Plan, for example on Gilman Boulevard?”
Development Services Deputy Director David Favour was on hand to facilitate questions from the committee. He cautioned patience in thinking about the longevity of the plan.
“I think we’re pleased to see residential coming in,” Favour said of the redevelopment interest for a property that only recently entered the market. “ It would take a council agenda bill process to change the design standards. That’s the process and however important the priorities is how quickly we want to move forward with that.”
He remained confident in the city’s ability to realize the Central Issaquah Plan over time.
“Over a 30-year long-term period, we plan to get that mixed use,” he said.
The plan requires a yearly update from the administration to the council on the progress of the vision. The first will occur in January. Goodman said it would be a good time to extend the conversation about possible requirements to give Issaquah some leverage in future developments.
“I’m excited about this,” Councilman Tola Marts said, adding a bit of a counter weight to Goodman’s consideration. “It’s a little concerning right now that the first thing we see isn’t a mixed use, but I want to see more housing on the valley floor.”
Goodman brought the conversation forward to ensure the city continues to look forward into the future.
“We have to be visionary along that corridor, because what’s going to be there is going to be there for a long time,” she said.