Sammamish Forum Aug. 21
August 22, 2013
Town Center plan
After 10 years of planning and a cost close to $2 million, the town center plan is not working. In the fall, the City Council will vote to do nothing — keeping the plan as is — or vote for revisions that make town center development economically feasible.
Proposed revisions will not increase density, will not destroy the environment and will not cause traffic gridlock.
The rationale for doing nothing is that in time retail rents will rise and the higher return on investment will make town center development economically feasible. This is ridiculous.
The threats to local business are: one, high rents because one out-of-state corporation monopolizes commercial space, and two, the lack of market competition due to the failure of the town center plan.
Doing nothing means the council elects to wait for local rents to rise, and, in theory, make town center development feasible. High rent is the problem, not the solution. Higher rents will not create more retail space. On the contrary, high rents will stop development of new and competitive retail space in the town center.
The market is calling for more affordable retail and office space, not higher rents. Higher rents facilitate development only if there are businesses able to rent more costly commercial space. High local rents are already running local businesses out of town. A policy calling for even higher rents would be a disaster.
From a developer’s perspective, why build retail space that requires rents beyond what local businesses are able to pay?
We are a bedroom community needing local services that improve the quality of life and give us a small town atmosphere. Only big box stores, national chains and fast food restaurants can afford doing business in Sammamish because they get discounted long term leases. Local business are pushed out.
A failed town center plan left Ace Hardware with nowhere to go but out of business. Other local services will close down also.
Depending on what the Council decides, our local businesses live or die. Urge the City Council to do something not nothing.
The writer is a property owner in the Town Center area.
Will Issaquah invest in Klahanie’s roads?
Issaquah-Fall City Road serves the Klahanie community and our community needs to serve it. It has been stretched beyond its design capacity and needs upgrading. We need sidewalks to protect our kids, safe areas for bicycles and an efficient design to keep us moving into the future.
How will this road be viewed if we allow Issaquah to annex Klahanie? Here’s how:
“We don’t have the money to fix this road now, or in the foreseeable future.” “It will happen when it happens.” — Issaquah City Councilwoman Stacy Goodman.
The road “…will have to compete with projects in the Central Core.” — Issaquah City Councilman Paul Winterstein.
“It is a regional road and needs a regional solution.” “We must work with King County for funding.” “We will evaluate projects based on our needs.” — Issaquah City Administrator Bob Harrison.
Issaquah City Councilman Joshua Schaer notes that Issaquah’s annexation study “did not address $2.6 million in curb, gutters and sidewalks as well as $2.8 million to properly maintain the roads in [Klahanie]…”
For Issaquah, it’s an unfunded mandate they’re hoping someone else will take care of. They have no plans to improve Issaquah-Fall City Road. Is that the partner for us? I don’t think so. We have other choices; let’s explore them before entrusting our future to those who see us as competitors to their projects and goals.