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Originally published May 6, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified May 6, 2008 at 12:05 PM

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Seattle's University Village plans big expansion

University Village has filed preliminary paperwork with the city for a major expansion. Plans call for about 25 percent more retail space...

Seattle Times business reporter

University Village has filed preliminary paperwork with the city for a major expansion.

Plans call for about 25 percent more retail space at the upscale open-air Seattle shopping center, and a similar increase in the number of parking stalls.

Three buildings would be constructed and two others expanded in three phases from 2009 to 2011, according to plans filed last week with the city Department of Planning and Development.

Susie Plummer, University Village's general manager, said construction timing will depend on tenant interest. But she also said the 400,000-square-foot shopping center can't accommodate some prospective tenants — especially restaurants — that recently have expressed interest in moving in.

The new buildings would be on current parking lots. They would include:

• A six-story structure along the village's south property line, next to the Northeast 45th Street Viaduct, with about 40,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor and five floors of parking above. A small, stand-alone Key Bank branch on the site would be demolished.

Construction would start in January, and the space would be ready for tenants in November 2009.

• A two-story, 20,000-square-foot "Village Center" with restaurants and retail in the middle of the 23-acre shopping center, north of Eddie Bauer. Plans say the building, slated for 2010, would be the shopping center's iconic structure. Preliminary sketches show a tower in one corner.

• A three-story, 40,000-square-foot "Village Gateway" building just south of the main entrance off 25th Avenue Northeast, with retail on the first two floors and what Plummer called boutique offices with views of Lake Washington and Mount Rainier on the top level. Construction would be completed in 2011.

In addition to the three new buildings, second floors totaling 12,500 square feet would be added to two one-story retail buildings.

When all the work is done, the plans say, the number of parking spaces would increase about 28 percent, from 1,938 to 2,474.

Plummer said the mall's existing parking, including an 800-stall garage completed earlier this decade, usually fills up only during the holidays.

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"I wouldn't say parking is a problem now," Plummer said. "[The additional parking] will set us up for busy holidays and future growth."

University Village's last round of expansion encountered fierce opposition from neighboring communities. Jeannie Hale, president of the Laurelhurst Community Club, said village management briefed club members last month about the latest plans.

She said she fears that the shopping center's growth will exacerbate traffic problems on 45th, 25th and Montlake Boulevard Northeast.

"It's a wonderful place with many amenities," Hale said. "It's a destination, but there are impacts."

The city Northeast Design Review Board is tentatively scheduled to consider the preliminary plans June 2.

The meeting, the first of several steps in the review process, will be an opportunity for developers to present their ideas and get feedback from neighbors and the board before final permit applications are submitted.

Eric Pryne: 206-464-2231 or epryne@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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