Kirkland urges transit-oriented development at Kingsgate

The city is asking the state to proceed with a pilot project at the park and ride.

Kirkland’s Kingsgate neighborhood. Courtesy photo

Kirkland’s Kingsgate neighborhood. Courtesy photo

The Kirkland City Council discussed transit-oriented development (TOD) at the Kingsgate Park and Ride twice at its Jan. 15 meeting, receiving an update on a feasibility study for the site and adding a pilot project to its 2019 legislative agenda.

The city has been collaborating with multiple agencies, including King County Metro, Sound Transit and the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), on the project.

“We are excited to be a part of exploring and trying to implement TOD at a WSDOT-owned park and ride lot,” said WSDOT’s Celeste Gilman. “This is the first time we have undertaken this.”

WSDOT purchased the eight-acre site, located just west of I-405 at Northeast 130th Street and 116th Way Northeast, in the late 1970s using federal Motor Vehicle Funds. The site currently includes 502 park-and-ride stalls, transit facilities and is served by 11 transit routes.

WSDOT owns the site, but Metro operates and maintains it. Through a partnership with WSDOT, Sound Transit conducted the TOD study as an early deliverable in its ST3 I-405 Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project. Sound Transit, as part of its $54 billion ST3 plan, plans to expand the Kingsgate facility with a net increase of 400 parking stalls, to be constructed within a 600-stall structured garage.

The feasibility study, mandated by the state Legislature in Engrossed Senate Bill 5096, directed WSDOT to “investigate opportunities for a transit-oriented development pilot project at the existing Kingsgate Park and Ride facility,” while coordinating with the city and other key stakeholders to determine the feasibility and cost.

“We’ve been working together for a while and we are also, in a sense, still at the beginning of the process,” Gilman said. “Action by the Legislature will be critical in what those next steps will be and the timing.”

The study was finalized in November 2018 and provided to the council in December 2018. It concluded that is it possible to include transit-oriented development at the park and ride “under some scenarios, but there are many variables and interests that shape the possible options.” Funding is also a key challenge.

TOD is “generally defined by a half-mile walking distance around high-capacity transit stations,” according to the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC), and aim to “promote local community and economic development by providing housing types at a range of densities and affordability levels, commercial and retail spaces, community services, and other amenities that are integrated into safe, walkable neighborhoods.”

Located within the Totem Lake Urban Center, the Kingsgate Park and Ride site is ideal for TOD, according to the city. It would maximize the potential for increasing affordable housing stock and the overall livability of the Totem Lake area.

Totem Lake is Kirkland’s largest employment center. By 2035, the area is expected to double its housing units to about 12,000 units. Employment is expected to increase from today’s 13,000 employees to about 52,000 employees.

The study noted that affordable housing and market-rate apartments are feasible at the Kingsgate site, but that office, hotel and pedestrian-oriented retail are not. The most important TOD objective for council was identified as the development of affordable housing.

After reviewing the study, the Kirkland City Council voted to amend its legislative priorities to add authorization of the TOD pilot project at the park and ride, to be completed by Dec. 31, 2023.

“The purpose of the pilot is to demonstrate how appropriate WSDOT properties may be used to provide multiple public benefits such as affordable and market rate housing, commercial development and institutional facilities in addition to transportation purposes,” according to the council’s agenda bill.

The city authorized WSDOT to “execute any and all legal and administrative actions necessary to accomplish the TOD pilot,” and directed the agency to provide a report to the Legislature by Dec. 1, 2019 of any actions necessary to further allow WSDOT to facilitate the pilot and future TOD projects.

“We need to try to move as quickly as possible because things are moving on the BRT,” said Councilmember Dave Asher. “I think we can come up with an outstanding addition, not only to the BRT system, but also to our urban center there in Totem Lake.”

See www.kirklandwa.gov for more.

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