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Parkplace zoning gets final approval from Kirkland Council

City of Kirkland - Courtesy photo
City of Kirkland
— image credit: Courtesy photo

In a packed council chamber Tuesday night, the Kirkland City Council voted 5-2 to reaffirm zoning ordinances passed two years ago for the redevelopment of Parkplace. Impassioned speeches came from council members and many Kirkland citizens during the meeting and public hearing leading up to the vote.

The council also unanimously passed amendments to zoning code for the project, as recommended by the Planning Commission.

For most in the room who were against the redevelopment plan for Parkplace, the concerns were in the preliminary design of the buildings.

“I am 100 percent supportive of Parkplace development...,” said Councilmember Jessica Greenway, who voted against the proposal along with Councilmember Dave Asher. “However, I absolutely cannot accept building E. This is the building that will face the park. This is the building that will connect with the downtown.”

Greenway held up the drawing of the eight-story building E in the preliminary design that shows a vertical wall full of glass windows. Greenway’s primary objection to the plan was that Touchstone Corp. did not incorporate modulation in building E as the city requested.

“I am frustrated that I could not have more influence on this,” said Greenway.

All of the council members went into detail as to why they were voting yes or no on the project prior to the vote.

“We’re not talking about design,” said Councilmember Amy Walen. “Approving the density in that place is good for the city ... There is still time for input on design through our development agreement with Touchstone.”

Some of the members have been on the council during the entire two years of the process and voted on the initial rezoning.

“This is not about design,” said Mayor Joan McBride, who voted in favor to reaffirm the zoning ordinances. “Sometimes design is about personal taste. I am going to focus on the decision we made two years ago.”

But for some, their minds were changed with the designs that Touchstone submitted.

“We need this development,” said Asher, who voted in opposition. “But I was shocked when I saw the designs.”

The passionate speeches were not confined to the council as six members of the community were able to voice their opinions during the public comment portion of the meeting.

“Kirkland is made better by having high-tech companies such as Google as our neighbors and we should support infrastructure to attract this kind of company,” said Kirkland resident Peter Wilson, who worked for Google and helped work to get the current Google campus built in Kirkland. “Kirkland City Council members and the city have said that we are open for business and we need to demonstrate this.”

But the designs of the buildings continue to be the biggest issue.

“We are seeing buildings that do not have any of the design ideals that were originally envisioned by the council,” said Kirkland architect Rick Grimes.

The Design Review Board will wrap up its review process on the final Parkplace building in November.

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