Kirkland Reporter’s Totem Lake Malls survey results are in, 333 respond
By MATT PHELPS
Kirkland Reporter Regional Assistant Editor
February 9, 2011 · Updated 1:22 PM
Getting a feel for what the public wants to see at the Totem Lake Malls site is apparently really easy. The Reporter ran a survey with the Totem Lake Malls series asking residents for their ideas and 333 readers replied. That number dwarfs all surveys published by the Reporter in the past five years.
The ideas submitted in the survey were as diverse as the types of stores that residents want to see at the malls. The Reporter received 29 handwritten responses and 303 online surveys. Responses came from as far away as Florida and New York and included 10 states and Canada. And while not every person that filled out the survey completed every section, it was obvious people were passionate about the neighborhood and the malls’ current state.
The main section of the survey asked: “What are the most important improvements you would like to see in the Totem Lake Business District?”
The overwhelming votes were for more places to shop, more things to do in the area and the direct redevelopment of Totem Lake Malls. Flood control, parks and traffic circulation and more gathering places were not at the top, but still important to respondents. The least important thing to the majority of the respondents of the survey were pedestrian-bicycle improvements and more places to live.
Among the topics covered in the survey was what businesses respondents would like to see at the malls. The response was amazingly diverse with 102 different businesses mentioned in the 233 written responses to the question. Forty-nine stores garnered multiple mentions.
The Reporter tallied up how many times the individual businesses were mentioned in the surveys and Target was the overwhelming winner, being mentioned 49 times. Wal-Mart was the second-highest with 21 people saying they would like to have the chain at Totem Lake. A few said they did not want Wal-Mart. IKEA was third, garnering 20 mentions. Other popular stores were Old Navy (14), Macy’s (9), Kohl’s (9), Nordstrom’s Rack (8), Best Buy (8), Bed, Bath and Beyond (7) and Cost Plus World Market (7).
Many people suggested renovating the site for an outlet mall. The lack of diversity in eateries in and around the mall was a big issue for residents: “More good restaurants. Right now there is not one that we go to and we live about five minutes away. We go into downtown Kirkland instead.”
Others combined the previous ideas: “Make Totem Lake a place with 30 different small places to eat for under $7 per meal.”
Some identified the space as a place for building up: “They’re only one story. Two stories or more that would incorporate lower levels to retail and upper level high rise apartments/condos might better serve that big chunk of land.”
Many people were upset with the economic impact of the malls: “What we have now brings in no revenue and is very sad as it brings down property value around the mall.”
The impact of the hospital was not lost on many survey respondents: “People visiting patients or going to doctor appointments should have some place to hang out where they feel comfortable.”
Many mentioned wanting a year-round farmer’s market, a bigger grocery store, an asian grocery store, a YMCA or community center or a gym. A couple people mentioned more nightlife and arts venues.
Some of the more unique ideas for the land were a water park, a new professional basketball or hockey arena, paintball arena, skateboard park, ice skating rink, batting cages and open space.
“Why not develop a ‘Greenlake’ of our own with real walking path etc. around Totem Lake. This could be the draw instead of an anchor store. And make the mall areas into a little more of a mini-University Village type environment.”
A separate response stated, “Develop the lake area with walking paths, benches and sitting areas along the lake. Make the lake visible to people. You can’t be passionate about something you don’t know is there.”
Some were not happy with what has happened to the area during the past decade: “For the most part, the modern City of Kirkland is ugly and sterile. What’s been done to Totem Lake, the land and trees, is the destruction of an incredible asset.”
Two people responded by wanting the potential Parkplace redevelopment to move to the site.
When asked what words would describe Totem Lake if all the improvements respondents had in mind were completed, the most common word used was “convenient.” Other common words were community, vibrant, destination, walkable, inviting, green, family friendly, safe and accessible.
The lack of accessibility to the area was a big issue for many who responded: “Shopping and traffic go hand-in-hand and Kirkland is a traffic nightmare, whether you’re slogging to get through it on 405, or taking surface streets.”
Some see other modes of transportation as an important issue: “I live less than a mile away, and it is foreboding to ride there with a bicycle.”
It is easy to see why businesses such as Denny’s Pet World, Trader Joe’s, Guitar Center and The Trading Post have remained. Many survey respondents made a special effort to declare their love for these businesses.Contact Kirkland Reporter Regional Assistant Editor Matt Phelps at email@example.com or 425-822-9166 ext. 5052.