Rogers Market Site: Food Store, Residential, Office, and Retail Mixed-Use Project Proposed
A pre-application has been submitted proposing a mixed-use project on the former Rogers Marketplace site at 23120 56th Ave W. The project would include residential, office, and retail uses including an intended "Food Store". To be clear, a pre-application is still very early on in the process. It's simply the developer telling the City what their idea is to get some initial feedback. There are typically significant changes between what is submitted in the pre-application and what is ultimately built.
Below is a site plan of what is being proposed. The intersection on the lower right is 56th Ave W and 232nd St SW. The street improvements shown along 56th Ave W and at the intersection are what is proposed is the Main Street project, Phase II.
The proposal includes three buildings: the west building, the east building, and the central connector building. These are shown in the pinkish color on the site plan. The blue rectangle in the SW corner would be some sort of water feature and plaza. 40 parking space are provided around the plaza/water feature, on 57th Ave W, and in the portion of the site that has always functioned as an extension of 57th Ave W. Most people likely don't realize that the south half of 57th Ave W between 232nd and 231st is actually a part of the project property, though is has always functioned as a public street. At the northwest corner of the surface parking area there would be an entrance to the 500 stall underground parking garage. The north end of 57th Ave W would include on-street parking and dead end where the existing public right-of-way ends. A service/loading area would be accessed off of 231st St SW.
What the developer is proposing is a Planned Unit Development, or PUD for short. Planned unit development (PUD) ordinances allow developers flexibility to depart from a strict interpretation of zoning requirements in exchange for fulfilling an established set of planning criteria. Because the public process associated with PUD is more robust and there is more flexibility both for the developer and City staff, the project can usually end up with a much better design and function for that specific site. In fact, the first criteria for a PUD in the City's code is "The proposed development would be of superior design and construction than what would normally occur under the regular zoning regulations."
That gets us to the question of what flexibility is the developer asking for? The maximum number of stories allowed on this property according to the zoning code is six stories and a maximum height of 75 feet. One area where this proposal deviates from the zoning code is that that the developer is proposing eight stories for the west and east buildings with a height of around 108 feet. The central connector building would be a single story with 36 foot ceilings and a roof level terrace. The underground parking garage would contain 500 parking stalls. While a detailed summary of unit types and parking space calculations is not included, the proposal does state that they intend to provide at least one parking space per residential unit. For studios and open bedrooms this would be 33% greater than the 0.75 parking space/unit requirement.
The eight stories would include ground floor commercial space, office space on the second level, and 280 residential units on levels three through eight. The proposal states that at least some of the ground floor commercial space is intended to be used as a "Food Store".
Eight stories is obviously a departure from the zoning code but it's important to consider what would be allowable on this site. An alternative site design that does adhere to a strict interpretation of the zoning code might be something similar to Arbor Village: one large, monolithic structure. But this could have a 50% larger footprint and one story taller than Arbor Village. When people talk about density they are often talking about the number of residential units, office space, and commercial space. Some people may argue that allowing eight stories would increasingly the density and therefore the impact on the surrounding neighborhood when it comes to vehicular traffic, utilities, etc. An interesting would be to compare what is being proposed to what could be built without using the PUD.
An extremely simplified way to think about it is to compare the proposed project's gross building floor area to what building floor area would be achievable with a single, large six story building. To come up with a rough floor area we can compare this project's site area to the Arbor Village site area and use a similar floor area ratio (FAR) to calculate the potential gross floor area. A FAR is the ratio of the gross floor area of the buildings to the total site area. Arbor Village has about 175,000 square feet of gross above ground floor area and a total site area of about 55,000 square feet. This gives the project a FAR of about 3.2 (175,000/55,000). Assuming a theoretical 6 story building on the Rogers site could get 20% more floor area (an additional story), a FAR of 3.8 would be a reasonable estimate. A FAR of 3.8 applied to the Rogers total site area (93,000 square feet) results in a gross floor area of about 354,000 square feet. The proposal has about 335,000 square feet of gross floor area. You can see that the proposed buildings, even though taller, aren't really adding density over what would likely be allowed without the PUD.
I think there is a lot about this project that Mountlake Terrace residents can get behind. The PUD process provides more opportunity for public input on the project. The possibility of a "food store" (hopefully this means grocer). Many people will appreciate the surface parking and the developer providing more than just the minimum stalls. The plaza and water feature could be a great community asset.
Included in the pre-application is a project overview narrative that speaks more to the developer's vision for the project. It's about five pages long and contains a lot of planning language but is an interesting read nonetheless. You can access the document here.