Jamas Gwilliam, MGP’s Vice President for Development, spoke at the Lake Forest Park City Council Committee of the Whole Meeting on Monday, April 22. Many of you met Jamas back in February at the community meeting. The purpose of his meeting with the Council was to answer questions from council members and to clarify our plans for the Town Center.
Here are some abbreviated summaries of the key questions and answers from that meeting.
Council’s question: What is MGP’s vision for The Commons?
MGP: We think The Commons is an extraordinary place for the community. One idea would be for the City to lease the space similar to how King County leases space for the library. If the property were to ever be redeveloped, the Commons would have to remain an important part of that plan.
Council’s question: What challenges and opportunities does MGP see at the site for redevelopment?
MGP: For starters there are existing tenants whose leases need to be respected. The sight’s shape, which is a triangle, along with the topography are challenges. However, the setting in LFP is intimate and the surrounding tree canopy is unique, something we could build on in a future design. Additionally, the visibility from the highway and main streets is desirable for retail tenants. One of the biggest opportunities we see might be to make the site more pedestrian friendly.
Council’s question: What are MGP’s development needs for the Town Center, and how will they be offset by community amenities?
MGP: These types of questions are typically outlined in a development agreement, where the city and property owner are able to partner in a way that results in the orderly redevelopment of the property over multiple phases. The needs of various stakeholders are taken into consideration through that process rather than relying exclusively on a tight set of guidelines prescribed in a municipal code. Some topics in a development agreement might be open spaces, activation elements such as the Farmer’s Market and other community events. Design guidelines can also be tailored to a specific project within a development agreement.
Council’s question: What number of residential units is needed to justify a redevelopment?
MGP: Rather than focusing exclusively on unit counts and building heights, we begin with the bigger picture of how the space is currently functioning and how it is positioned for the changes occurring in the market. When redeveloping portions of a property from commercial to residential we must strike a balance between removal of commercial square footage and addition of residential or other square footage uses. The addition of one must offset and justify the removal of the other. That threshold is a math exercise (cost and revenue) upon which we are able to craft a plan that focuses on the demands and interests of various parties.
Council’s question: What are MGP’s thoughts on the Sound Transit parking garage?
MGP: Ultimately Sound Transit has the authority to build a commuter parking garage. In our experience, Sound Transit has been open to discussion about reducing disruptions during construction. We know change is coming, and we think there are some great opportunities for the Town Center. In our discussions with Sound Transit, we’re always advocating for tenants at the Town Center’s and will continue to do so throughout their process
We concluded the meeting with a statement, and we wanted to share it with you.
We are hopeful that the preferred alternative and code amendments will take advantage of the change that is coming to the Town Center site, to allow us to work with City Council and the community to create a space that the community will be proud of for years to come.