City seeks partners for future parking project in Town Center

The City of Mercer Island is moving ahead on planning for additional parking in the Town Center to accommodate growth expected from the future completion of a light rail station here and to supplement parking needs in the business core.

The city estimates it will need between 150 to 200 parking stalls when the light rail station between 77th and 80th Avenues S.E. over the freeway is complete.

In a request for qualifications (RFQ) to be published this week, the city is looking for a party to assist in what it terms “Transit Oriented Development” (TOD) in the Town Center. At this point, the city is “soliciting qualifications from real estate developers interested in partnering with the city and a private land owner on the project.”

The project is to be a private-public partnership between a landowner, developer and the city. There are two main goals. The first is to accommodate parking needs, and the other is to create a destination for both residents and visitors alike to generate business and activities in the downtown.

The new East-Link rail station, to be constructed over the existing HOV express lanes, will increase the demand for access to the area. The demand for commuter parking, drop-off traffic and simple on-street parking will increase substantially once these express lanes have been converted.

According to development director Tim Stewart, the city has been working with Sound Transit to identify an appropriate amount to fund additional parking. But the arrangement may not just be in terms of dollars.

“Sound Transit will make a ‘contribution,’” Stewart said.

The city has talked with  a handful of landowners near the planned station to partner in the project.

The city hopes to create a place “that will become a landmark within Town Center and a destination location for commuter, shopping, business and pedestrian and civic traffic.”

The city has been advertising for contractors on other upcoming city projects.

Architects and engineers are needed who are experienced in fire station design for the eventual rebuild of the South end fire station on S.E. 68th Street. A notice has also been published to advertise for a contractor for the First Hill water system improvements project. The project is slated to include the installation of 3,200 feet of a new water main and connections to homes and existing water mains.

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