The first commercial/retail center for the Sammamish Town Center broke ground this morning at the corner of SE 4th St. and 228th Ave. SE.
This is a major milestone in the history of Sammamish.
The Town Center plan was some six years in the making, involving five citizen committees and commissions comprised of about 70 citizens; City Councils spanning 2004-2010; and staff time to this day.
Hundreds of citizens participated in charets and public meetings over the course of this time.
The creation of the Town Center Plan truly began in about 2004. The area, roughly bounded by an area extending to the Mars Hill Church on 228th (the church lies just outside the northern boundary) to Skyline High School and Mary Queen of Peace on the north; and from the Eastside Catholic High School (which is outside the Town Center) on the East to roughly 222nd St. on the West. The Sammamish Commons is part of the Town Center Plan.
Four quadrants make up the Town Center: the Northeast, Southeast, Northwest and Southwest quadrants, with the center point NE 4th and 228th. The Village is in the NW Quadrant. Construction of a mixed use office/small retail/residential development is underway in the SE Quadrant.
But it is the NW Quadrant and Metropolitan Market that is the anchor of the Town Center and, for me, the most exciting part.
This is Metro’s seventh supermarket location. Metro has been eyeing Sammamish since before it became a city, making a bid on the property that later became the QFC shopping center (aka Pine Lake Center).
Metro will employ 120 when the store opens in about 18 months. It will have a mezzanine gathering place that is twice the size of the typical design, taking advantage of the site’s topography and providing a gathering place in Sammamish that has been sorely lacking in commercial areas.
The Town Center is approved for 600,000 sq ft of commercial/retail/office space and 2,500 single- and multi-family homes. It’s intended to provide a variety of goods and services that most people in Sammamish have to drive off the Plateau to find; and to provide jobs and office space here in our city. On average, each Sammamish resident spends about $14,000 a year on goods and services; only a little over $2,000 a year is spent in our City, revealing a major pent-up demand.
The Town Center was also planned for a variety of gathering places amongst the buildings and to supplement the Sammamish Commons, around which the principal Town Center core was zoned.
The developments in the NE and SE Quadrant are intended principally for residential and office space, supplemented by small retail.
Although planners recognized that these developments would create drastic changes to this central area of Sammamish, removing trees in the process, care was given to provide open space and replantings, to protect creeks and sensitive areas and to reduce surface parking through the use of parking garages and encouragement of Low Impact Development environmental techniques.
The need for a central commercial area and gathering place was recognized by a successive series of City Councils. The genesis, though it may not have been recognized as such initially, began when the 1999-2001 City Council purchase 10 acres for the City Hall. This was followed by purchasing what became the Sammamish Commons “bowl” and the section where King County ultimately put its second Sammamish library.
This was followed by the purchase of what was known as the Kellman property, about nine acres that is now being transformed into the Community Center.
As all this evolved, starting with the purchase of the Commons, city officials realized the surrounding land was the only large, remaining open space that made sense to zone for a Town Center.
In a rush to complete the City’s first Comprehensive Plan in a record 18 months, the Planning Advisory Board (of which I was a part) was directed by the 1999-2001 City Council to forward the Comp Plan to the Council without finishing its work on this central core.
A separate process was created for the Town Center planning. Over the next six years the five committees and commissions and successive City Council mentioned early in this post studied data, heard testimony and public input, held charets and the Town Center Plan evolved into what it is today.
As could be expected, the process was controversial, drawn out and often frustrating.
Then came the 2008 global Great Recession that ground all development to a halt as capital dried up. Expansion of the Issaquah Highlands and part 3 of the Bellevue Lincoln Square plans stopped. No new development, such as that for our Town Center, was contemplated.
Once the economy finally began to recover, stalled development was completed before new projects were started–and Sammamish took in its first Town Center applications last year. Construction began in the SE Quadrant a short time ago and today, the NW Quadrant. An application is being processed for the NE Quadrant and inquiries have been made for the SW Quadrant.