One week after Sammamish citizens showed strong support of local retailer Ace Hardware, the City Council gave its unanimous approval to pursue development of a new structure on a challenging piece of property.
“I didn’t need to hear two and a half hours of testimony last week, I was already there,” said councilwoman Nancy Whitten, during Tuesday’s council meeting. “I think it’s time that we support a hardware store in town.”
The council instructed city staff to pursue a development agreement, with all the tools legally available, to present at its next scheduled meeting Jan. 8.
There are several concerns around the potential building site on the other side of the stream from the Washington Federal building, between Northeast Second and Northeast Fourth streets.
The property, which is owned by developer Elliot Severson, is currently only zoned for limited office retail. In order for the property to be rezoned, several environmental concerns would need to be addressed, including the adjacent George Davis Creek and a nearby wetland.
“The environmental issues on site are not small,” said Kamuron Gurol, director of community development.
Along with environmental concerns, the development agreement would also involve the city and Severson swapping property and the cooperation of nearby Mars Hill Church. The biggest challenge is perhaps time as Ace Hardware’s current lease in Sammamish Highlands Shopping Center expires August 2013.
Charlie Klinge, attorney for Severson, hopes to gain the city’s approval of a final plan by the beginning of February.
“We think that the issues are resolvable and the Ace Hardware can be built at that location,” said Klinge, noting he and his client have already submitted a draft development agreement.
Mayor Tom Odell also voiced his strong support of finding a way to develop a new hardware store.
“From my standpoint, I view it critically important that we find a way, if at all possible, without corrupting zoning regulations, which were put there for very good reasons,” he said. “Hopefully we can find a way of making this happen.”
Ace Hardware owner Tim Koch said he would have to close his business in the Sammamish Highlands Shopping Center if the city can’t find a resolution due to high rent required by Florida-based Regency Centers. He stepped to the podium Tuesday and thanked the council for its effort.
“I am 100 percent behind whatever you need to do to make this happen, financially, whatever, I’m behind this,” he said.