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Legacy Mercer Island project will be five stories

By MARY L. GRADY
Mercer Island Reporter Editor
March 6, 2013 · Updated 9:54 AM
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VIA Architecture/Contributed Art A artist’s rendering of the public plaza at the Legacy Mercer Island development includes an expanded public plaza. / VIA Architecture/Contributed Art

The latest large residential commercial project in the Town Center looks to have achieved its goal to be five stories.

The proposed mixed-use building with 209 rental apartment units and retail space totalling 11,000 square feet is to be built on just under two acres of land at the corner of the northwest corner of S.E. 27th Street and 76th Avenue S.E.

Between 214 and 267 parking stalls will be built below ground. A number of units are set aside for affordable housing.

City staff is in the process of finalizing the development agreement, which sets out the parameters of the project.

The development agreement will be adopted by ordinance. The Council is expected to vote on the ordinance on March 18 after the second public hearing on the project that evening.

The Design Commission will begin reviewing the design features of the project even before the vote is final.

The Legacy Mercer Island project developers first came to the Council last summer when they requested a five-story structure. Under city code, a fifth story is only allowed if the developer constructs what is termed a ‘significant public amenity.’ The plan had included significant public amenity in the form of a public plaza.

Yet city code allows only one such option to be exercised per block. That option has already been used by the Aviara development next door.

But over the past several months, city staff and the city manager have met with the Legacy developer to modify their design.

As a result, the project now has a waiver of sorts from the city regarding the public space. It will remain as part of the plan and has been expanded and refined. As such, the development can go to a fifth story.

The project developers also heard directly from City Councilmembers who had specific questions regarding the project, including traffic, parking, the public space and green building design.

At a study session held with the city council in February, Councilmember Tana Senn asked why the affordable housing rates were set at 80 percent of the median income rather than 60 percent. She also asked about pedestrian safety given the fact that driveways will cross the sidewalks and traffic changes along S.E. 27th and adequacy of parking.

Councilmembers Mike Grady and Mike Cero also had questions and comments about the project regarding the use of sustainable practices in both design attributes and amenities.

As a result, the revised plans now propose that the 13 units designated as affordable housing will be available at rents set at 70 percent of the median household income of King County.

In addition, the city wanted assurances that the project would include a portion of parking that can be used as ‘walk-off parking’ to allow for shoppers to move from one property to the next in the Town Center.

Finally, the outdoor terrace or public area was to be increased in size, and reconfigured.

The developer will also pay up to $10,000 to mitigate any traffic impacts near the S.E. 27th Street and 74th Avenue S.E. intersection.

The 32,000-square-foot parcel sold Nov. 8, 2011, for $8 million, about 10 percent over its assessed value, to an Island group.

The ordinance to approve the development agreement will have its second reading at the March 18 regular City Council meeting, before the Council votes on the ordinance.

The property on the northwest corner of S.E. 27th Street and 76th Avenue S.E. was occupied for many years by the Islander Pub, True Value Hardware, the former Washington state Liquor Store, Mercer Island Pediatrics and other businesses. Most of the tenants have left. The Islander and True Value Hardware remain. According to True Value owner, De Calvert, the hardware store lease is up on July 1.

For more information, drawings and details about the project design and questions by the City Council, go to www.mercergov.org.

Information about the upcoming design commission meetings can also be found on the city website.


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