It's baa...aack..... So please go to the meeting.
The Merlone Geier speculative shopping center project will be presented at the Arden Arcade Community Planning Advisory Council (CPAC) meeting on 4/27 at 6:30pm at the Arden Dimick Library at Watt & Northrup. From the agenda, it appears nothing in the proposal has changed. Was it delayed in the hope that opposition would go away? The proposal was the subject of our 3/26/17 post "Are we guided by lack of vision?" (go here and scroll down to March 26, 2017). In summary, the project seeks to remodel the shopping center and add some new buildings with drive-through windows --on the Watt Avenue side -- which could be rented to businesses. Merlone Geier has not said who the tenants will be, though the County's "coming soon" sign on site implies there will be fast food businesses. The developer calls it a "Town Center". While it might be located more or less in the middle of Arden Arcade, there's nothing about the project that reflects the core of the community. Though the site is close to some nice neighborhoods, the proposed design could work in an industrial area. There aren't any amenities -- like fountains or sculptures or people-places included in the design. Merlone Geier is a big-deal, S&P500 company that just plunked down $170M on shopping centers in San Rafael CA and Burlington WA. So, as you might expect, Merlone Geier is helpless -- totally, completely, absolutely unable to do the project in compliance with County development standards and needs to avoid regulations for building setbacks, landscaping, sign size, and even the block wall (substituting a cheaper wooden fence) that would protect adjacent houses from the project. Opposition has to do with things like the regulatory give-away process being against state law, the abundance of fast-food and auto-oriented businesses in the vicinity, failure to adhere to the County's economic development strategy (see Key Priority #5: Providing a Full-Range of Lifestyle, Education, Housing & Recreation Amenities for a High-Quality Workforce at page 24 and following and especially Exemplary Action 5.3 on page 26 ), and the project's apparent indifference to pedestrians and community needs. The correct answer would be for the County to instruct the developer to reach out to the community and come back with a project the community wants, not just a project the community has to tolerate. Since other jurisdictions do that, the County can too. HaHaHa. Right. Not a good bet for your life savings. We could be looking at yet another blown opportunity, perpetuating the downward spiral of local land uses. We could be settling for less than half a loaf again, setting the table for generally unwanted and unneeded businesses. Or maybe people will show up at the CPAC meeting such that their opinions will be heard beyond the CPAC. And we might get some listening behavior that could lead to something better.