Downtown building renovation raises parking and traffic concerns

A building that has long been sitting empty in downtown Redmond is in the process of receiving a makeover.

The property at 16390 Cleveland St. was purchased about six months ago and about three months prior to the sale, the developer — Andorra Ventures — began applying for permits for the building’s renovations.

Andorra has applied for an interior improvements permit and they are seeking a site plan entitlement for exterior modifications for the outside of the building.

Rob Odle, planning director for the City of Redmond, said the modifications being proposed include new doors, new windows and other modifications so the building — which was used for sales and storage for the old T&D Feed store, previously located across the street — doesn’t just look like an old concrete building.

A few nearby businesses have raised concerns about additional parking and traffic issues that may arise with new businesses coming into the neighborhood. Some of the business owners spoke at a meeting on April 6 when the site plan entitlement went before the city’s Design Review Board (DRB).

Odle said no decision has been made yet as the board requested more information from the developer. He added that the next DRB meeting is scheduled for April 20 but they do not know if the board will receive the clarification they need yet.

“We don’t have a timeline for that decision at this point,” Odle said.

Sean Miller, a managing partner with Andorra, said the plan for the building is to prepare it to be a retail space.

For the interior of the building, he said this means putting in heating, water and sewer and redoing the interior walls and floors. Miller said they are trying to keep the building’s older-looking aesthetic but still modernize it for their future tenants.

As of right now, he said Andorra is not sure who the tenants for the property will be but they have been approached by several businesses ranging from a tailor/seamstress and clothing store, to a coffee shop and retail cannabis store.

“The full gamut,” Miller said about the types of businesses who have contacted them.

He added that they are still exploring their options so the number of tenants as well as type of tenants for the space is still up in the air.

While Miller and his company are still not sure what type of business will occupy the space once renovations are complete, the potential for a marijuana retail business in downtown Redmond has current business owners in the neighborhood concerned.

A number of business and property owners have noted downtown’s current difficulties with traffic and parking and said a cannabis store will just add to the issue.

Aaron Laing is an attorney representing the property owner of the building that houses Prime Steakhouse (16330 Cleveland St.), which is next door to the proposed new business. He said the lack of sufficient parking in downtown leads to drivers often circling around in search of a spot, which adds to traffic congestion. Laing, who spoke at the DRB meeting, said a high-volume marijuana retail business possibly bringing in 50-75 customer trips in an hour would make things worse.

Wayne Humphreys, who co-owns El Toreador Mexican Restaurant at 7845 Leary Way N.E. with his two brothers, voiced similar concerns.

El Toreador has been at its location since 1979 and Humphreys said parking is already a “big issue” and they have lost some long-time customers over the years as it has become more difficult to park close to the restaurant.

Laing said Andorra also applied for their permits in a piece-meal fashion, which allowed the permits to be approved without public notice.

“I’ve never seen anything like that,” he said.

Miller said they have complied with all procedures and regulations required by the City of Redmond. He added that permits for interior improvements and permits for exterior improvements are not required to go hand in hand, meaning an applicant is not required to apply for both in order to receive one.

Laing said another concern that has been raised is whether Andorra’s project will be required to put in parking spots as a building that would bring in new business.

Odle said the city is still looking at the parking issue and how much the developer would be required to provide.

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