Library may top Mill Creek’s Target store

MILL CREEK — The city of Mill Creek and Target are considering a first-of-its-kind store in the nation that could save taxpayers $1 million.

City officials are working with Target executives and the Sno-Isle Library District on plans for a store that would feature a library above the retail space.

“We’re optimistic, but it’s by no means a done deal,” Mill Creek Community Development Director Tom Rogers said. “It’s a wait and see.”

Sno-Isle is looking for a larger space to house the Mill Creek branch, which is the third busiest of the district’s 21 libraries. Communications Director Ken Harvey said sharing costs with Target could save taxpayers $1 million on a new, larger library.

The Target and library could be located in the west portion of the East Gateway Urban Village, which is on the south side of 132nd Street between Seattle Hill Road and 35th Avenue SE. Sno-Isle determined the location as feasible for Mill Creek’s library in a study conducted a few years ago.

The city does not own the property and would not be responsible for its development. Rogers is connecting the people who could make the project happen.

The Target store and the library would share a building but own their separate areas, not unlike the way ownership is handled in a condominium.

“It would be a very unique thing, ” City Manager Ken Armstrong said.

Because Mill Creek has little remaining undeveloped property, city officials are looking at maximizing future economic growth by attracting high-end retailers.

The city often hears from people in town about retailers they’d like to see locate there, including Target and Trader Joe’s.

Other business could follow if the combined store and library comes to the city.

“Target is a big draw,” Rogers said.

Still, the city wants the businesses to fit with Mill Creek’s character. The city would require Target to design a different look with higher-quality materials for its Mill Creek store.

“It would have to have its own identity,” Rogers said. “It couldn’t just be a box.”

Mill Creek is hoping to hear from Target on the proposed project early this year.

Regardless of Target’s decision, a new Mill Creek library would need voter approval.

The city’s residents have shown interest in putting a bond on the ballot, according to surveys conducted by Sno-Isle. In a January 2013 survey, people said Mill Creek’s branch is too small and limited parking remains a problem.

The existing library at 15429 Bothell-Everett Highway is 7,500-square-feet. That’s less than a third the size of the Lynnwood branch. Sno-Isle determined Mill Creek requires 40,000 square-feet to meet the community’s needs over the next 20 years.

“We’re continuing to hear from folks in the community that they’re ready to get things going,” Harvey said.

If voters pass a bond for a larger library, the existing branch would have to close so levy funding could cover operations costs.

Once Sno-Isle has a clear answer from Target, it expects to continue discussions with the community.

“Absolutely nothing can happen without taxpayers and voters having a say,” Harvey said.

Amy Nile: 425-339-3192; anile@heraldnet.com.

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