Developers want 7th and Gilman fast-tracked
February 4, 2014
By Peter Clark
Lennar Multifamily Investors wants to move quickly on the first redevelopment in central Issaquah.
The developer with a Seattle office submitted an official site development permit application Dec. 18. It has an interest in working with the city to construct the first large project under the Central Issaquah Plan. However, it also has an optimistic schedule.
“We’re basically just starting our review,” Project Oversight Manager Christopher Wright said. “There doesn’t seem to be any major issues.”
The property in question sits on the corner of Seventh Avenue Northwest and Northwest Gilman Boulevard. The plans show three five-story residential buildings, complete with underground parking.
Along with a clear vision of how Lennar wants to develop the land, Wright said the developer also submitted a specific timetable.
“The applicants have a schedule and it’s really aggressive,” Wright said. “I don’t know if we will be able to meet it.”
He said the developers want the application to begin going through the Development Commission this spring. They hope to start grading and construction this summer. Wright said the complicated conversation between the applicant, the city and the public might delay the proceedings as the application receives a review.
The unique nature of the project might also serve as a hurdle in the aggressive time line.
“This is a special project for a couple of reasons,” Wright said. “This is the first one under the Central Issaquah Plan. This is the first one using our revamped and revised permit processes. They’re letting this be the guinea pig.”
One of the foremost worries of any property along Issaquah Creek, but especially on this property, remains how to deal with flooding. Past floods took a toll on businesses in this area, but Lennar has built a solution into its plans.
“There’s a channel that runs through the whole site that will handle flooding purposes,” Wright said. “There were a few ways to deal with it and the Public Works Engineering Department has played a huge role in looking over this application.”
In the plans, the channel runs right up against the property where Taco Bell and O’Reilly Auto Parts currently stand. That parcel is owned by another party and so is not included in Lennar’s redevelopment.
Members of the City Council and some in the administration voiced disappointment that the plans call for only residential housing instead of mixed-use buildings as envisioned in the Central Issaquah Plan. However, many have welcomed the pilot project.
“I’m thrilled they’re coming,” Senior Planner Christen Leeson said. “The fact they are stepping up to do it, I think that’s great.”
She said creating more housing in the central area would draw more interest from other developers and eventually help flip the transportation problem, with residents spending more time in a redeveloped central area.
Wright said the application will go through the city’s Development Commission. While waiting for council passage of the Central Issaquah Plan and its development standards, the commission has not had many reasons to meet. Wright said that will soon change.
“The Development Commission will hold a public review process,” he said about the site development permit application. “We’re only in the early stages of reviewing it, but it’s been a real collaboration between the applicant and the city.”