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Wednesday, July 24, 2002

Call To Order

Chairman Glick called the meeting to order at 7:40 PM in the Council Chambers, 9611 SE 36th Street, Mercer Island, Washington.

Roll Call

Carl Bryant, Bryan Caditz, Marcia Dawson, Chairman Fred Glick, Attila Laszlo, Vice Chairman Norman Sandler, and George Wittman were present.

Staff Present

Richard Hart, Development Services Director


Commissioner Wittman moved, Vice Chair Sandler seconded, to approve the minutes for the regular meeting of June 12, 2002. The minutes were approved by a vote of 7-0.

Regular Business

Action Item #1:
The applicant, Dollar Development, James Cassan owner, is requesting preliminary design review and approval for Gateway Commons, a five story mixed-use development of 247 residential units, 15,000 sq. ft. of retail, office and service uses, and 517 underground and ground floor covered parking spaces in the Town Center, located at 7650 SE 27th Street in the Town Center (TC) Zone, (DSR02-019 & SEP02-018).

Richard Hart, Development Services Director, summarized the staff report for the proposed mixed-use development and provided a history of the recent developments in the Town Center. Staff recommended preliminary design approval of the project subject to several conditions as outlined in the staff report.

The Design Commission asked staff several questions for clarification concerning the parking structure, vehicular access, and the proposed live/work units along 77th Avenue.

Franco Mola, Project Manager and Chek Tang, architect from McLarand, Vasquez, Emsiek Architects represented the developer and made a presentation outlining the design features of the proposed new mixed-use development.

The Design Commission asked the project architects numerous questions about the following elements of the project design:

  • Areas of public space, plazas or courtyards that would be available for public use.
  • Gate or closure of the mid-block vehicular and pedestrian connection.
  • Landscaping and screening along the NW edge adjacent to nearby retail and office uses.
  • Pedestrian bridge over the mid-block connection.
  • Increase variety of design on the roof forms.
  • Vehicular and garage access.
  • Design treatment of the Paseo element at mid-block.
  • Design of the live/work units.
  • Access to and use of the stairs by the public.

The architect clarified and explained all the above questions.

Chairman Glick opened the public testimony portion of the meeting, and there were comments from the following citizens:

Richard Winslow, 3761 77th Ave SE: Concerns about the scale, size and traffic impact of the development on the Town Center.

Robert Copeland, 4219 92nd Ave SE: Concerns about the scale of the project and the loss of the volleyball courts on the site for public use.

Marguerite Sutherland, 5425 96th Ave SE: Concerns about the scale of the project and its impact on the streetscape, the type of landscaping, and the need for larger trees for shade and shelter along the street.

John Goldman, 7217 27th Ave SE: Concerns about the scale of the buildings, the traffic and possible need for a traffic light, the addition of so many new residential units in the Town Center and it’s impact on the streets, and the need for affordability in new housing units.

Steve Burgess, 3508 96th Ave SE: Concerns about the impact of such significant changes in the Character of the Town Center and the overall impact of this and the other planned new projects in the community.

Staff explained how the City responds to the potential impact of such new developments and how these projects relate the overall City Comprehensive Plan for the downtown adopted by the City Council in response to the State Growth Management Act of 1992.

Chairman Glick closed the public testimony portion of the meeting. The Commission then discussed various design elements of the project focusing on the following elements they wanted to be redesigned and modified to better meet the City’s design Criteria and standards:

The tower and roof elements at the NE and SE corners of the project along 77th Avenue.

  • Study the roof and corner details and make them a true design element.
  • Consider the integration of the roof elements to the building mass.
  • The corner towers and vertical elements should be a true focal point and identity feature for the project. Expand on the “shed” roof concept.
  • Consider modifying the sheer mass of levels 2-5 at the SE corner.
  • The NE tower is really the “gateway” to the project for vehicles entering the Town Center, so make this a strong architectural element.
  • Consider improving the articulation of all roof forms and study the different slopes of the various roof forms.

The articulation and façade modulation on the large walls on the northeast, northwest and southwest elevations.

  • More articulation and modulations of the NE, NW and SW walls are needed to break up the massing of these structures. Provide more detail and be respectful of the project’s relationship with surrounding buildings.
  • The large wall facing Simba's service station needs to be redesigned to make it more pedestrian in scale and less massive.
  • Consider breaking up the continuous horizontal band around the façade.
  • Lessen the overall bulk of the buildings.
  • Some walls seem massive, oppressive, stark or blank and need some articulation.

The skybridge and west facing wall of the parking facility at the first floor level of the mid-block pedestrian and the design detail of the “paseo”.

  • Consider improving the articulation of the skybridge and make it a pleasing architectural feature. Be very creative and make the bridge a true design element.
  • Redesign the open, west-facing wall of the parking garage fronting on the paseo, and consider adding retail shop storefronts or glass display cases to provide a more pedestrian-friendly feel for the length of wall adjacent to the two entrance drives of the parking area.
  • Prepare a new color elevation of the east side façade of the paseo after modifications to add more detail, articulation and remove any visible elements of the parking garage. All parking must be totally underground, enclosed or hidden from view except for driveway entrances.
  • The pedestrian spine of this mid-block connection needs modification to make it a pleasing and pedestrian-friendly element with lots of paving patterns, landscaping, pedestrian amenities or art elements.

The auxiliary design features of landscaping, water features, canopy and window details, color and materials along 77th Avenue, 76th Avenue and 27th Street.

  • Consider stronger landscaping elements within the mid-block pedestrian connection and along the large wall facades on the NE, NW and SW.
  • Prepare more study and architectural details of windows and canopies.
  • Prepare a color and material board for submittal.
  • Prepare cut sheets on all public space amenities and lighting elements.
  • Provide more detail of architectural paving techniques.
  • The whole project needs more perimeter landscaping.
  • The wall/fence and landscape screening elements adjacent to both north property lines need more study to make it a true design element and to soften the building mass and wall façade.
  • Better define the working elements of the major water feature and “ribbon of water”.
  • Focus on the reveals and small line articulation on the building facades, by providing a detailed drawing.
  • Provide a section through a typical window to show details.
  • Indicate how drainage will be handled with any exterior gutter system.
  • Consider larger trees with bigger heads and canopies and no pear trees.
  • Provide details of overall signage plan and how they will be mounted on buildings.
  • Need a more specific and detailed landscape plan.

All design changes and new information with a narrative description of such changes must be submitted to the City by Friday, August 29, 2002 to allow time for staff review and distribution to the Commission for the meeting of September 10, 2002.


Commissioner Dawson moved, seconded by Commissioner Bryant, to continue the public meeting for preliminary design review and approval to a Special Meeting on Tuesday, September 10, 2002, beginning at 6:30 PM. on (DSR02-019) as presented on the plans and elevation dated May 9, 2002. The Commission also asked the architect to prepare revised plans, elevations and a narrative description addressing the major design issues of concern to the Commission. This decision is in accordance with the MICC Unified Land Development Code, Section 19.04010(D)(4) and Title 19, Division II, Part 2, Design Requirements.

The motion passed by a vote of 7-0.

Other Business
Director’s Comments:
No comments

Council Liaison Report:
Councilmember Cairns gave a report on the Council’s recent decision on Luther Burbank Park and affordable housing considerations.

Next Regular Meeting:
There are four agenda items scheduled for the next meeting of August 14, 2002.

Commissioner Absences:
Some members indicated they could not make the next meeting.
10:40 PM

[Important Note: The proceedings of the Design Commission meeting were recorded on tape and are on file with the Development Services Group. The complete agenda and official minutes of this meeting are also available from the Development Services Group.]


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