The city on Dec. 27 finalized its purchase of the former Tully’s Coffee Shop parcel of land.
The plans to build a commuter parking and mixed-use development project at the site. That project will add more than 100 underground parking spots.
The sale totaled $2 million plus closing fees. City sustainability and communications manager Ross Freeman said the purchase has been in the city budget for several years and was paid for out of the capital projects fund.
While the intention to build the parking project on the site has been clearly communicated, and is one of the major talking points on the city’s Let’s Talk website, that’s where the plans end; no final design process has been initiated and at this point designs remain conceptual.
Freeman said a final design process would gather community feedback at various stages along the way.
Parking has been a problem on the Island, and additional transit parking was deemed necessary given that the Mercer Island Park and Ride usually fills by 7 a.m. on weekdays.
Some community members have expressed concerns over the project’s encroachment on — and impacts to — adjacent parkland owned by the state department of transportation. Currently, the approximate project footprint extends from the Tully’s parcel into the adjacent cul de sac and the Greta Hackett Outdoor Sculpture Gallery (sculpture park).
Combining the adjacent city-owned section of Sunset Highway with the Tully’s site and a section of WSDOT property will allow the public-private development to move forward. The area was recently rezoned in order to allow the five-story mixed-use development project.
The development would feature commuter parking, a performing arts facility working with the Mercer Island Center for the Arts, and mixed-use commercial and residential space.
The goal is for the project to be completed ahead of the 2023 opening of the East Link Light Rail.
The Tully’s site, located at 7810 Southeast 27th St., lies in the city’s Town Center near Interstate 90 and next to the future Sound Transit Light Rail Station. The property also formerly housed an Atlantic Richfield Company (ARC) gas station.
As part of the redevelopment of the property, ARC, as the known polluter, has agreed to reimburse the city for most of the costs for property clean up, including excavation, segregation, transportation, and disposal of contaminated soil. Freeman said the city will explore opportunities, possibly including grants, to cover any remaining amounts that ARC won’t pay.
The total cost for clean up is estimated at $9 million if completed as part of redevelopment, when earthmoving already would be underway. If completed before any development occurs, the clean up cost is estimated at $19 million.
“The council spent many hours discussing this complex process with the needs of residents in mind, and I’m pleased to see this day arrive,” Deputy Mayor Salim Nice said in a city news release. “This project promises to provide much-needed commuter parking while enhancing our Town Center retail core and creating a new gateway for Mercer Island, just steps away from the future East Link station.”
Freeman previously told the Reporter that the city explored all possible sites for the project, since it’s tough to find undeveloped land on the Island, particularly in the Town Center and close to the future light rail station. So when a parcel this close to the future station is available, he said it’s a “big deal.”
More information about the project can be found on Let’s Talk at letstalk.mercergov.org/commuterparking.