Council will discuss Town Center retail analysis at next meeting

Town Center moratorium was extended by six months last November.


The city of Mercer Island will take its next steps on the Town Center moratorium at the city council’s April 6 regular virtual meeting.

As part of council’s budget process at its Dec. 1, 2020 meeting, the seven members appropriated $50,000 for a Town Center retail analysis and approved a “placeholder” docket request for potential Town Center plan/code amendments, according to City Manager Jessi Bon in her reports during the March council meetings.

On June 2, 2020, council adopted an ordinance to place a moratorium on major new construction in the Town Center. Bon said she’s received copious emails about the status of the moratorium, which council amended on Sept. 1, 2020 and extended by six months on Nov. 17, 2020.

A hired consultant has conducted the retail analysis and the report will be presented on April 6 with discussions anticipated to roll over into the April 20 meeting. Bon said the results of those talks will indicate whether an additional extension to the moratorium is necessary as the six-month mark is on the horizon.

There were no commenters during the time set aside for a public hearing at the Nov. 17, 2020 meeting, during which council voted in favor of suspending its rules of procedure requiring a second reading of the ordinance prior to voting in favor of extending the moratorium.

As noted in a previous Reporter story, according to a Community Planning and Development Department report on the Town Center development, “protecting and expanding Mercer Island’s retail sector is of utmost importance to maintaining and improving the quality of life and emergency preparedness by providing local access to goods and services that are necessary to meet the daily needs of residents.”

One of council’s concerns upon adoption of the moratorium on June 2, 2020 was that new developments in the area south of Southeast 29th Street “may not provide adequate retail space, and they would like to review this component of the current code,” according to a press release.

The moratorium does not include single-family development, according to a previous Reporter story. The city also noted that any development applications that have already been deemed complete will not be affected by the moratorium as they are vested under existing regulations.

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