Floodwater details presented in Seventh and Gilman redevelopment
April 8, 2014
By Peter Clark
After two public meetings, the Seventh and Gilman redevelopment continues through the city’s application stages and might go beyond expectations.
Lennar Multifamily Investors again presented plans to the Rivers and Streams Board on March 18 regarding how its planned residential redevelopment would handle floodwater. The corner of Seventh Avenue Northwest and Northwest Gilman Boulevard, now called Cadence by the potential developers, has a long history of suffering from flooding events and Lennar Multifamily Investors Development Director Tom Bartholomew knows it.
“Issaquah is unique in terms of flooding,” Bartholomew said after the meetings. “It’s an issue and I understand the sensitivity. I understand the visceral reactions to the meetings.”
Redevelopment plans include three five-story residential buildings that Lennar would build up from the current elevation. Presentation to the Rivers and Streams Board came as part of the site development permit application process.
Many residents and nearby landowners expressed disbelief about Lennar’s proposed strategy for dealing with flooding.
The plans presented to the two meetings indicate the two features that would serve as the main solution to that property’s threat of flooding. The plans involve expanding the western bank of the adjacent Issaquah Creek to allow more water capacity and cutting a canal through the landscape that would gather water in flood events, pushing it toward the Northwest Gilman Boulevard outlet.
City Environmental Planner Peter Rosen said the issue might need clarification for the public.
“There’s some pretty specific requirements that they need to meet,” he said about Lennar. “I think the biggest disconnect with the public comment is that this isn’t going to prevent flooding in the city and it’s not going to prevent flooding at the site.”
Any changes Lennar makes to the parcel only cannot negatively affect any surrounding land. The developer has no responsibility to enhance the area’s storm water management.
“I think people might be looking for improvements on that front and that’s not in the purview of the applicant,” Rosen said.
Still, Bartholomew said Lennar has taken the matter seriously and tried to perform community outreach to assuage concerns.
“We weren’t required to attend the second meeting,” he said. “We felt an obligation to help people understand what we’re proposing out there.”
Beyond the two meetings, Bartholomew said the developer wants to go an extra step.
“We’ve asked the city to conduct an independent peer review,” he said.
That would involve contracting with an outside agency to further validate the models Lennar has provided for managing floodwater.
Rosen said such a step might not be necessary, but it is appreciated.
“They’ve used the same models that the city has used, so there’s a certain level of confidence,” he said. “We’re not against having a peer review. It’s likely that we will do that later in the process. I’m pleased they’re thinking along those lines.”
The Development Commission will next take up the redevelopment plans during its April 16 meeting, at 7 p.m. in council chambers, 135 E. Sunset Way.