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Planning considerations for Town Center, part 1
July 19, 2019

With the City’s ongoing Environmental Impact Statement and Vision process, and Sound Transit’s parking garage plans, we know community members have questions about the future of the Town Center at Lake Forest Park. That’s why on July 17, we voluntarily organized a town hall meeting to share our thoughts and several conceptual plans for a potential Town Center redevelopment, with hopes we can take a more active role in shaping the future of our property as we strike a balance with various stakeholder demands.

We don’t know exactly what will happen from Sound Transit’s expansion, so we want to make sure we have the ability to respond to changes by having several options for redevelopment available on the site.

This post recaps part of our town hall at the Third Place Commons, where we met more than 100 of you and discussed the future of the Town Center. In part 1 of our recap, we’re going to share the conceptual plans from the town hall PowerPoint presentation (we apologize again that it was hard to see in person). Watch the video below or scroll down to read about our town hall.

Changes over time

Since purchasing the Town Center in 2014, we learned that Lake Forest Park is an educated and engaged community (and just a little “funky,” per a town hall attendee), that cares deeply about its trees and the future of the Town Center and how redevelopment could impact their way of life.

Aerial image showing the current layout of Town Center. We do not own the nearby Windermere building, Starbucks, or City Hall.

The city council and staff have been planning for Town Center redevelopment in some capacity since 2004, and a lot of those major changes are starting to take shape now and in the near future.

As the property owner, MGP is embracing and responding to change at Town Center, staying engaged throughout the city’s environmental review and sub-area plan process to get to a common vision for the future.

Concepts for the future

We’ve enjoyed connecting with the community over the last several years and learning how you want to nurture and grow the heart of Lake Forest Park. Our plans reflect the 2018 Vision document. Also, it considers change from the Sound Transit garage and the effect on our existing tenants, who we are committed to support and collaborate with during that time.

Our plans break down the Town Center site into three zones for planning purposes. It is important to note that these are not specific phases or sequences for construction. Should a project resemble any of these concept plans, full build-out would have to occur over a 15-20 year timeframe based on existing leases that are in place at the property.

Caption: MGP’s three Town Center zones, A, B, C.

This version of a conceptual site plan reflects a new main street connection from Ballinger Way NE to Bothell Way NE with traffic calming, restaurants, and shops clustered around a town green, a new location for the Commons, a grocery store facing Bothell Way and residential uses in Zone A, B, and C.

This conceptual site plan is one of several concepts we could ultimately construct. It reflects a new main street connection from Ballinger Way to Bothell Way with traffic calming, restaurants, and shops clustered around a town green, a new location for the Commons and a grocery store facing Bothell Way with residential uses in each zone.

Zone A concepts

Within the conceptual site plan, Zone A could include about 140 residential units over parking and 8,900-square feet of ground-floor retail.

Zone A ground-level plan 

Zone A typical plan shows a residential concept for Zone A, where buildings could reach 66 feet – not quite as tall as the tallest trees around the perimeter of the site.

Zone A concept with the Sound Transit parking garage  

This option assumes Sound Transit needs 300 stalls, plus 200 additional stalls to replace displaced retail parking or provide parking for new retail.

Zone B concepts

Zone B could include more housing (apartments or condos) – with about 280 units in each within a 75’ building.

Zone B ground level 

Zone B image shows residential levels 

The building on the east of Zone B assumes a 20′ setback along Ballinger Way, preserving the majority (if not all) of the mature trees along Ballinger. That building also assumes some ground-floor retail of about 7,000 square feet at the upper end of the main street.

The image shows Zone B concept height.

The proposed residential and retail building on the western side of Zone B could be more than 70 feet from the fence between the building and the Brookside Triangle community. With this reversed E-shaped building, homeowners closest to the fence would have existing trees remain, additional landscaping buffer planted, and considerable more setback than what currently exists in the code – all with the goal of respecting concerns that have been raised about a large wall of housing units right in their backyard and the associated shadow or privacy concerns.

Zone C concepts

Our first concept for Zone C reflects a mixed-use space clustered around a new main street and town green with about 80,000 square feet of retail – including a grocery store with surface parking. Massing studies suggest that about 400 residential units could potentially occur here in a 66-foot building with structured parking.

Also, Zone C shows where The Commons would be potentially located. It is our intention for The Commons to remain an important part of the site.

Zone C – Mixed-use concept 1 ground level

Zone C – Mixed-Use Concept 1 Roof Level

In this configuration on Zone C, there may be an opportunity to pull down the fence separating the site from Lyon creek with townhomes/stoops spilling out toward the creek.

Opportunity to pull down the fence separating the site from Lyon creek with townhomes/stoops spilling out toward the creek.

A second concept for Zone C brings more of a diagonal connection from the signalized intersection on Ballinger Way NE to the traffic signal on Bothell Way by Starbucks. This would bring about the same amount of retail including a grocery store, a similar number of residential units, and the same building height.

Caption: Zone C – Mixed-Use Concept 2 Ground Level

Caption: Zone C – Mixed-Use Concept 2 Roof Level

The third concept for Zone C concept shows a similar footprint of what exists today with some changes to create more outdoor gathering spaces and a series of new retail opportunities.

Caption: Zone C – Mixed-Use Concept 2 Ground Level

Caption: Zone C – Retail Concept 2nd Level

Principles of placemaking

In our outreach efforts and the city’s Vision process, we listened to how you see the future of the Town Center at Lake Forest Park. We’re taking your input and working with HEWITT, an architecture firm that specializes in creating a true place for people.

Kris Snider, Hewitt Director of Design, has been designing spaces such as University Village, Kenmore Town Green, and Redmond Town Center for the past 30 years.

A sketch 

Snider says when it comes to thinking about placemaking, his firm thinks about these 5 key attributes:

  • Accessibility,
  • Activation,
  • Accommodation,
  • Anticipation,
  • Authenticity.

These key attributes ensure people feel comfortable in their surroundings and want to “linger longer” at the space with friends and family.

Next steps

Our next steps include working with the city on a development agreement, which would be a contract binding any future development at the Town Center to an agreed-upon set of standards including such elements as design, community amenities, housing densities, and building heights. That would be an agreement approved by City Council and subject to the current City Council public processes. Architectural design and building permits for any specific buildings would be part of another process.

Part 2 of our town hall blog series

In part 2, we’re sharing the full recording from the questions-and-answers portion of our meeting. Watch it here.

We’re happy to take your questions. You can contact our project team directly at info@lfptowncenter.com.

Updates
What's changed at the Town Center?
July 08, 2019
Merlone Geier Partners is proud to celebrate a series of vintage Town Center photos —compliments of Don Craft, who shared these moments with us.
Keep reading
What's changed at the Town Center?
July 08, 2019
Merlone Geier Partners is proud to celebrate a series of vintage Town Center photos —compliments of Don Craft, who shared these moments with us.
Keep reading