"Apartments planned on High School Rd.Fifty units would be bundled with office space, west of the Texaco station."
June 9, 2008 · Updated 3:42 PM
"A Bellevue developer hopes to break ground this summer on the first apartment complex on Bainbridge Island more than a decade.The mixed-use project, known so far only as the High School Road Mixed Use Project, calls for 50 apartments and almost 30,000 square feet of commercial and retail space. The planned project is on the north side of High School Road between the Texaco station and the American Marine Bank.The market research showed that rentals are what people on Bainbridge feel is needed, said project architect Miky Ishida of Arai/Jackson in Seattle.They talked to city officials, neighbors, apartment and condo managers, and found that so many people want rentals, but there is not much available, Ishida said.The plan envisions a courtyard arrangement, with four buildings surrounding a central plaza.The two one-story buildings fronting High School Road would be commercial space. The larger four-story buildings on the west side and towards the rear of the property would also contain commercial space on the ground floor and residences on the third and fourth floors.The west building will have office space on the second floor, while the north building will have residences there.The majority of the 177 parking spaces will be underground, with the rest at ground level.The building exteriors will primarily be cedar shingles.Access will be through the Texaco station's driveway, which the developer has arranged to share.We actually gave them some of our property for their access so they could move their driveway farther away from the highway, Ishida said. They agreed that we could use it in the future, and the future is now.Plans call for 22 one-bedroom apartments, some with a den, of between 635 and 758 square feet. The 25 two-bedroom units would have between 971 and 1,400 square feet, and the three three-bedroom units would be 1,290 square feet.We're aiming at the commuter market, Ishida said. You could walk to the ferry, and the bus stops right there.She described the apartments as towards the high end, but said no rental prices have been established. A number of the apartments will be affordable under the city's guidelines.Traffic at issueWhile the project is in the area of Winslow slated for high-density development in the city's comprehensive plan, the location between two heavily used intersections may be problematic. But the builders have offered to help with the solutions.The problem intersections are High School Road and Highway 305, and High School and Madison Avenue.A traffic study submitted with the application notes that vehicles waiting to make a left turn from High School Road onto the highway frequently back up far enough to block the Texaco station entry.One possible solution to that problem is to permit left turns from the center lane, which is now dedicated to through traffic, according to Bob Katai of the city planning department. The developer has agreed to contribute to the cost of re-striping and re-signing the intersection, Ishida said.The traffic study notes that the intersection of High School and Madison is already loaded past capacity, a situation that the new project would make even worse.But the study says the city will ease that congestion, referring to the planned installation of a roundabout. And the developer is willing to pay a share of the costs of that improvement.According Katai of the city planning department, the application is now complete, and public comment is being solicited.The next step, Katai said, is a hearing before the planning commission, which he estimates can take place in late April or May. After that hearing, the staff will complete an environmental assessment, and the package will go to Planning Director Stephanie Warren for her approval or denial.The developers estimate that building will take 10 months after final approvals.Owner is High School Road LLC, a Bellevue-based entity put together for this development. "