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9611 SE 36th Street
Mercer Island, WA 98040
Phone: 206.275.7600
Fax: 206.276.7663
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Commuter Parking Expansion FAQ

Last Update: 10 May 2018
When will these decisions be made and how can the community weigh in on these proposals?
The City Council will review purchase and sale agreements (PSA) for the two property transactions at its May 15, 2018 meeting, followed by a period of community input. The final purchase and sale agreements are scheduled for City Council action on June 5, 2018.  If they are approved, then an extensive due diligence period will follow, and closing would occur by late 2018 or early 2019. The Council welcomes the community’s input on these two proposed PSAs.

What happens during the due diligence period?
A Due diligence period allows a buyer to fully investigate property prior to closing (or finalizing the acquisition) to ensure that it is suitable for the buyer’s desired development or use.  Due diligence periods allow a buyer to withdraw from a purchase and sale agreement if something is discovered about the property that does not meet expectations.  In the case of the City purchasing the former Tully’s site, the City will have six months to investigate and evaluate the property in detail before making a final decision to purchase the property and proceed to closing. This is similar to a home inspection when purchasing a new home.  

When will the commuter parking spaces be ready?
Parking spaces on both properties are expected to be available by 2023, in time for the scheduled opening of the East Link light rail service on Mercer Island. 

Why is the City creating parking at this time?
The lack of available parking at the MI Park & Ride is a growing problem for Island residents. The facility is generally full by 7:00am on weekdays and about half of all Park & Ride parking spaces are used by non-Islanders. Island residents have consistently asked for additional parking, and the demand is expected to grow when light rail opens and increased numbers of residents seek to use predictable train transit.

Will the parking be exclusively for use by Island residents? 
The City is exploring a tiered pricing scheme, similar to what it uses for its Parks and Recreation programs, or a comparable mechanism, to ensure Island residents have preferential access to the new parking spaces.

How much will it cost residents to use the additional parking?
There will be ongoing maintenance costs for the new commuter parking facility, and the City will need to share the maintenance cost with users. The City plans to research and develop an operational plan and pricing models before the parking facility is operational. Likewise, a “reservation” model could provide guaranteed parking, which does not currently exist at the Mercer Island Park and Ride.

How much will constructing these new commuter parking garages cost Island taxpayers?
Due to the unique public-private partnerships proposed, both commuter parking sites (see map) will deliver parking facilities for Mercer Island for the least possible cost by leveraging the City’s current and proposed land assets. For the Tully’s site, the City’s actual contribution, if any, for parking facilities is not yet known and will be further defined over the next six months as the City evaluates the property during its Due Diligence period. In the case of the Freshy’s site, the developer has agreed to provide between 65 to 70 public parking spaces to the City during commuting hours in exchange for the City’s sale of Parcel 7.  This arrangement leverages the value of the land, thereby alleviating the financial burden on taxpayers.  
At the former Tully's Coffee site: The City plans to purchase the former Tully’s property located at 7810 SE 27th Street from Parkway Management Group, for a purchase price of $2 million, using a portion of the Sound Transit Settlement funds.  The parcel could then be combined with adjacent property (Parcel 12) that the City already owns at Sunset Highway, and which could serve as a match for the ST funds in keeping with the ST Settlement Agreement. The City plans to construct over a 100 underground parking spaces.  The City anticipates creating a public-private partnership with a developer to bring in the expertise and necessary funding to complete the project. 
At the Freshy’s site: The City is selling a small parcel (Parcel 7) at the southwest corner of SE 24th Street and 76th Avenue SE in Town Center, for an estimated $2.3 million to Twenty Four Eleven LLC (Twenty Four Eleven). WSDOT deeded the triangular parcel to the City in 2000 for limited, specific uses, and will be the ultimate recipient of sale proceeds under the terms of the deed. The triangular property is adjacent to land owned by the buyer, where Freshy’s Seafood Shack operates today.  Twenty Four Eleven plans to build a mixed use project on the combined properties, to include 65-70 underground parking stalls for transit commuters that will be dedicated to the City of Mercer Island’s perpetual use between the hours of 5:30 am and 7:30 pm, Monday thru Friday.

Why does WSDOT get the money for the sale of Lot 7 if it’s City land? 
WSDOT deeded the triangular parcel to the City in 2000 for limited, specific uses, and WSDOT will be the ultimate recipient of sale proceeds under the terms of the deed. The City will receive compensation in the form of dedicated commuter parking provided by the developer: at today’s construction costs of $85,000 per underground parking stall, this is valued at approximately $6M.

How can the City afford to buy property when it’s facing budget deficits?
The Tully’s property purchase will use a portion of the ST Settlement funds which are restricted to parking use only and cannot be used for other City budget needs. 

Is parking the only use considered for the former Tully’s site? 
The Tully’s site combined with a small parcel adjacent to the site (City Parcel 12) could be assembled to create a mix-used project. As a consideration, if the adjacent parcel is rezoned to match the Tully’s zone – Town Center (TC) – the City could leverage private investment and reduce the financial burden on taxpayers. The Council will be considering this during the due diligence period.

Will residents have an opportunity to comment on the future project proposal?
Absolutely. The Council is pleased to help develop a project that meets demands for more commuter parking and that also “creates a vibrant, healthy Town Center serving the City’s business, social, cultural and entertainment center” (Town Center Plan). Citizen input will be welcomed and critical to ensuring a successful project. 

What are the public amenity requirements for these projects?
Under the City’s Town Center Development and Design Standards, a new project at either location must provide a variety of public amenities.  

What will happen to the Greta Hackett Sculpture Garden next to the Tully’s site?
The City Council and the community value the Greta Hackett Outdoor Sculpture Garden and the City will preserve and enhance it with better connectivity to the new transit station, thereby creating a welcoming entry to the Town Center.  The details of how any proposed project relates to the sculpture garden will be developed in consultation with the Mercer Island Arts Council.

What happens to any trees that must be removed for construction?
Any trees that are removed, even on City-owned land, must be replaced according to the updated rules in the City's tree code. In addition, a minimum of 25% of each site must be landscaped.

What will happen to the Freshy’s Seafood Shack?
Discussions are underway between the land developer and the owner of Freshy’s about a suitable space in the new proposed building.

How will these proposed projects interface with the new light rail station?
The City plans to design a welcoming pedestrian flow from Town Center to the light rail station. The community’s input on the design will be critical.

I’ve heard the Tully’s site is contaminated, how is the City going to handle this?
Environmental contamination at the Tully’s site, caused by a gas station that once operated there, will be cleaned up.  The City and Parkway Mgmt Group are negotiating to seek reimbursement for the site cleanup from outside entities, including from the previous owners responsible for the contamination.




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