The owner of Gilman Square* is preparing it for redevelopment.
The 6.09 acre Issaquah site is prominently located on Gilman Boulevard, behind and surrounding the O’Brien Auto Parts store and the popular Issaquah KFC/Taco Bell store. Neither the O’Reilly Auto Parts store nor the KFC/Taco Bell store are part of the Gilman Square property.
It is, however, the home to Lombardi’s Italian Restaurant. The redevelopment plan is forcing the Issaquah restaurant to close during summer 2013.
The property is bounded on the west by 7th Avenue NW, on the north by Gilman Boulevard, on the east by Issaquah Creek and on the south by Locust Street.
Because of its proximity to Issaquah Creek, the property floods from time to time. Redevelopment will require that this flooding be mitigated with onsite flood water storage and management.
Flood codes don’t allow changes to natural flood pathways that could impact other properties in the floodplain. Site development will need to accommodate the full 600 cfs of flood flow that is predicted to flow through the site during the 100-year flood event while also meeting the technical criteria of the FEMA “breakout area” shown on the flood insurance rate map.
This is a rather complex issue, even so the City feels that the site can be redeveloped using creative site design and in doing so will solve the largest flooding problem in Issaquah. Commercial properties in this low-lying property accounted for about 50% of the historical flood claims in Issaquah. Mitigating those “repetitive loss properties” will reduce insurance rates to everybody that holds a flood insurance policy in the City.
Proponents of the Issaquah’s redevelopment plans for central Issaquah (plans that are now codified in Issaquah’s Land Use Code) are quick to cite that 75% of the Issaquah Valley area is covered by parking lots (meaning that is a lot of room there for denser development).
Gilman Square is an excellent case in point of the properties these proponents want to re-use for denser development in Issaquah.
Gilman Square’s structures cover just 15% of the site and those structures have been underutilized for decades.
Gilman Square was originally known as Hi-Lo Center and was Issaquah’s first shopping center. It was built in 1961 by Marvin Mohl, a full 11 years before he commenced the development of Gilman Village.
Mohl was Issaquah’s first attorney moving to Issaquah after World War II. Without a second attorney in town against whom he could fight, his case load was light and he turned to development.
Mohl also developed the Issaquah’s Sycamore neighborhood.
A portion of the Hi-Lo Center was once also occupied by the Waterhole Tavern.
The Issaquah Reporter writes about a 1980 event as the “night the Mob came to Issaquah and blew up the Waterhole Tavern”. The Waterhole was never rebuilt. Walking the site, the foundation remnants are easily found. The bathroom floor tile is even partially visible.
The site was already on the down slide when Lombardi’s first occupied in 1988. Lombardi’s presence extended the center’s ultimate demise.
According to our sources, a sale of the property is currently pending. A buyer and the seller have entered into a contract of sale but the sale has not yet closed.
It is apparent that the property’s value is in its land.
The pending sale price is not public information at this time but the seller placed an asking price on the property of $4,800,000.
Documents offering the property for sale prominently disclose and emphasize the tenant identities and the dates their leases expire. By 12/31/2013, the property could be vacant and ready for redevelopment.
Floor Area (Square Feet)
|West Coast Armory||
|** Landlord’s right to terminate the lease early|
Properties immediately to the west of Gilman Square are located in the Issaquah urban core to be developed but Gilman Square is located in a MU-Mixed Use zone, a designation recently secured by completion of comprehensive plan changes of the Central Issaquah Plan.
Gilman district is intended to complement the strong retail focus of this district with significant future office and residential development, enhance Issaquah Creek and its buffers as an important link of the Green Necklace and encourage retail, office and residential uses at a medium to low scale.
The City of Issaquah intends for this zoning type to create a small to medium scale residential neighborhood with compatible commercial uses. The area shall serve as a buffer between the high and medium scale urban development to the north and the single and multifamily neighborhoods to the south.
Gilman Square’s redevelopment is particularly restricted in part by creek buffers, flooding mitigation requirements and easements related to the O’Reilly Auto Parts and KFC/Taco Bell stores.
No application for development has been made to the City of Issaquah. However, based upon the zoning and other site constraints, the property owner retained Kirkland land use consultant, CP|H Consultants, to study the site and present a plan concept for redevelopment of the site.
According to the property owner’s sale materials, a development footprint of 200,000 square feet and four full floors of development over parking, approximately +800,000 square feet of new development, is theoretically achievable without exceeding the maximum site FAR.
However, the current property owner anticipates the site will “comfortably support 450,000 to 500,000 square feet, several hundred residential units (350-400+), a meaningful commercial/retail component, usable outdoor recreational areas and parking.”
Because of the property’s adjacency to Issaquah Creek, development of this site will also provide an early implementation of the elements making up Issaquah’s newly identified Green Necklace.
Until the new owner discloses his plans, the development details and density will not be known. Certain however is that the density of the site redevelopment will be far greater than currently exists.
*Note that Gilman Square is a name used by two different properties in Issaquah. The one we refer to in this article is located on Gilman Boulevard.
The other property is Gilman Square Apartments located a short distance to the south on NW Dogwood. This article is not about the Gilman Square Apartments on NW Dogwood.
GILMAN SQUARE PHOTO GALLERY:
Photos taken 6/30/2013 — Phrases to describe my impressions from the site visit: large, surfaces are mostly impervious, under utilized, many eyesores.