It is good news that several new businesses have chosen to open on Mercer Island. More choices help everyone. More places to shop or eat means more people on the street. People headed to one business or restaurant might just check the one next door. More money spent on Mercer Island means a more vibrant community and more sales tax revenue to the city.
Construction continues on The Mercer projects. A new hotel is being planned at 76th and the Sunset Highway. Just down the block is the new Legacy project with apartments and commercial space. But there is more. There are at least eight homes listed for sale here that are labeled as ‘new construction’ with more in the pipeline. Community institutions are being remodeled or reinvented, such as the Stroum Jewish Community Center, which will spend $5 million reinventing their theater and public gathering areas there. The library is about to undergo an extensive renovation. Rite Aid has remodeled, as has QFC and Albertsons. Even the old ticket office next to the bike shop across from Albertsons has a new life as Terra Bella, an alluring decorating and home furnishing shop. Who knew?
Soon, there will be more construction — along I-90, the school district, at the YFS Thrift Store at Mercerdale Park and maybe Youth Theatre Northwest. All of these projects are signs of an improving economy and the release of pent-up demand for services. Again, they will bring tax dollars to the city and state. Workers, visitors and new residents will spend money. Are there downsides? Yes. More congestion. These new endeavors sometimes displace the old and familiar. Streets and views will be blocked. There will be more competition for a shrinking amount of space. There will be loss — and a bit of anger and regret. Just why are the new buildings so tall? Where can I park now?
More buildings. More people. More vehicles. Regional planning agencies have long predicted these trends and planned for meeting them via the state’s Growth Management Act. The surge, delayed for a time, is back.