Finalists join forces for City’s “Gateway” property planned at former Tully’s site

December 17, 2018 | by Erin Sirianni

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On October 31st, the City of Mercer Island named MainStreet Property Group LLC and Shelter Holdings / Weinstein A+U as the two finalists for a commuter parking facility and mixed-use residential/commercial development planned for the Mercer Island Town Center.

The two developers subsequently shared their presentations and participated in a Q&A session at the November 26th City Council meeting – both with visions for a vibrant development providing commuter parking (150 spaces), approximately 120 new homes, a facility for the Mercer Island Center for the Arts and Youth Theatre Northwest, and restaurant and retail space.

Mercer Island November 26th City Council Meeting

Mercer Island City Manager Julie Underwood was expected to recommend the final development partner to the Council for consideration and approval at the December 18th Council meeting. However, today the City shared a media release on its website that MainStreet Property Group and Shelter Holdings/Weinstein A+U have announced a joint partnership for the project that merges both organization’s proposals.

According to the media release, the collaboration will involve MainStreet Property Group as the developer and Weinstein A+U as the lead architect and planner, while GGLO Design will remain on the Mainstreet team as the interior designer for the project.

MainStreet Property Group’s civic experience and local connection

MainStreet was an early favorite among the nine developers that responded to the City’s Request for Qualifications (RFQ) and brings experience from other downtown mixed-use projects planned and developed in partnership with the cities of Kenmore, Bothell, Woodinville, Redmond, and Sammamish.

MainStreet was chosen as the master developer by the City of Bothell to revitalize its downtown. The City of Woodinville also selected MainStreet to be the master developer for 3.5 acres of city-owned property adjacent to the Woodinville City Hall for a large Civic Campus Project.  

Additionally, MainStreet President Kelly Price brings a personal connection to the project, having grown up on Mercer Island and graduating with the Mercer Island High School Class of 1987. His parents and several siblings still live on Mercer Island.

In MainStreet’s preliminary proposal, Price stated: “For me, this project would be an amazing opportunity to work with the Mercer Island community to create a first-class project for my hometown.”

(For Mercer Island development projects, the local connection is important. Not too long ago, an international developer with plans to build a five-story mixed-use development in Town Center was not seen to have the community’s best interests at heart and was essentially driven out – an oversimplification, of course, so if you’re interested, here’s the longer story.)

Weinstein A+U’s Mercer Island portfolio and experience with not-for-profit and arts facilities

Shelter Holdings/Weinstein A+U also brought a strong presentation to the community and council, as well as a portfolio of local project experience, including the Mercer Island Boys & Girls Club (PEAK), the Mercerwood Shore Club, and the Stroum Jewish Community Center’s auditorium. 

At the November 26th Council Meeting, Ed Weinstein, owner and design principal at Weinstein A+U, described his organization’s deep experience with civic projects and mixed-use projects, as well as arts facilities.

As the Mercer Island Center for the Arts (MICA) has been central to each developer’s designs, Weinstein discussed two of his organization’s recent arts projects in Seattle. These include studio space and a performance hall for the Cornish College for the Arts, which will be located at the base of a high-rise tower near the school’s main campus, as well as a performance facility for Seattle JazzED, located at the base of a five-story mixed-use building in the Rainier Avenue district.

Additionally, Weinstein described his experience working for not-for-profit clients and institutional clients, such as the Boys & Girls Club, Senior Services, Wellspring Family Services, churches, and synagogues, and helping them with their fundraising efforts.

“The significance for this project is that if MICA is to be a participant, we have the relevant experience of assisting our clients in fundraising, especially in items such as donor recognition programs for the facility,” he said. “In many respects, we understand the challenges, which are to be responsive to all the stakeholders, but also to assist them in their fundraising.”

Moving Forward

Many questions remain, but the merger of the MainStreet and Weinstein A+U creates a very capable team and partner for the City of Mercer Island. 

The City’s media release included the following statement from Price: “We are pleased that MainStreet and Shelter have arrived at this solution.  This proposal merges both organizations’ strengths in a manner that benefits all stakeholders as well as the community. Once authorized by the City Council, the entire MainStreet organization looks forward to moving the development process forward with the City and community and deliver the best for Mercer Island.”

The City also shared enthusiasm for the partnership and that further design refinement for the development will be in store based on community feedback.  

“We’re really excited about the depth of talent and experience represented by this partnership and look forward to reviewing designs that will meet a broad range of community goals and needs,” said Julie Underwood, City Manager, according to the media release.

What’s Next?

At its January 15, 2019 meeting, the City Council will formally acknowledge this joint proposal concept and authorize the City Manager to move forward with negotiating an Exclusive Negotiation Agreement (ENA). This process is expected to take up to six months. 

Background

Mainstreet Property Group LLC and Shelter Holdings / Weinstein A+U were among the nine developers who submitted proposals in response to the City’s Request for Qualifications (RFQ), issued in early September, toward identifying a developer for “a unique opportunity to create a public-private partnership and develop an integrated gateway connection between the City’s Town Center and the light rail station’s east entrance off 80th Avenue SE (opening in 2023).”

The site for the development is an expanded area of the former location of Tully’s Coffee. Given the exciting and significant possibilities for the location, we’ve borrowed the term “gateway” from the City’s description above for a short and easy description of the project and property, as used in our previous coverage. Technically, the City does not yet own the property, but is under contract to purchase it. (You can find more background on the property and the City’s objectives here.)

Further reading (and watching)

We highly recommend that you watch some of the video from the November 26th City Council meeting, in which the developers share their ideas and proposals (starting at 57:00 and ending at 2:09). 

City Council takes action to create commuter parking for Islanders – My Mercer Island

Preliminary proposals for Mercer Island’s “Gateway” property – My Mercer Island

City names two finalists for “Gateway” property – My Mercer Island

Feature image: Preliminary design rendering for the “Gateway” property; courtesy Weinstein A+U

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