The Village at Totem Lake is taking shape, with the first retail businesses scheduled to open in the new mall later this month.
Trader Joe’s is set to open Oct. 20. Nordstrom Rack is scheduled to open Oct. 26. Wells Fargo is planning to open Nov. 13.
The Totem Lake neighborhood is designated as an urban center, which means it will take on a lot of the city’s growth and development mandated by the state’s Growth Management Act.
There were 1,239 dwelling units in the Totem Lake neighborhood in 2015. By 2035, the City of Kirkland anticipates an additional 4,380 units. More than 800 of those additional units will come from the Village at Totem Lake development.
The city also estimates there will be nearly 8,000 new employees working in Totem Lake. This is in addition to the already 16,892 workers there in 2015.
The 360,000 square foot mixed-use mall, when complete by 2019, will add about 2,000 employees.
The city anticipates these retail outlets alone will generate an additional 24,000 trips every day to Totem Lake’s traffic grid, which is why the city has nearly 20 projects in the works, including roadway repairs and pedestrian and bicycle improvements.
“It’s really exciting. It’s very rare that so much happens in a community at the same time,” said Kathy Brown, director of public works for the City of Kirkland. “It really gives us an opportunity to make sure it’s done right and cohesively and not piecemeal.”
Since Totem Lake is an urban center, it’s a target for mass transit infrastructure.
As part of Sound Transit 3, there will be a rapid transit bus stop at Northeast 128th Street.
Just north of Totem Lake, ST3 will expand the Kingsgate Park and Ride.
Brown said the city will be working with the Washington State Department of Transportation and Sound Transit to bring a mix of housing — affordable and market-rate — to a property near the Kingsgate Park and Ride in the coming years.
Additionally, WSDOT has funding to build new ramps off of and onto Interstate 405 at Northeast 132nd Street, just north of the mall.
“So all of that is happening at the same time development is happening,” Brown said.
She said the city is working to develop the Totem Lake neighborhood in a way that meets the city’s 2035 vision.
“Livable, walkable, green,” Brown said. “We have some amazing opportunities to make that happen here. There are also some real challenges, because if you look at the map, 405 runs right through Totem Lake and then you also have the major interchange at Northeast 124th (Street).”
She said one of the things the city is focused on is connectivity — and not just for cars, but foot and bike traffic as well.
“So that when you’re there it’s a friendly place and not just a mass of traffic until you get to the mall,” she said. “So we’re doing that through a whole bunch of projects that we have underway.”
The city is also in the process of making investments to Totem Lake Park and the Cross Kirkland Corridor. The city plans to create a boardwalk around the lake and to install a “Skipping Stone” design for the Totem Lake Connector Bridge, a pedestrian and bicycle bridge that will go over the intersection of Northeast 124th Street and Totem Lake Boulevard.
“So all of that together, plus the mall development, will make it a nice place to be, a nice place to live, a nice place to walk, a nice place to recreate,” Brown said. “And the cool thing it’s happening much faster than we thought.”
The city had a 20-year forecast for development, because knowing when it would occur was hard to pinpoint — it’s really dependent on market.
Eric Shields, director of Kirkland’s planning and building department, said the city has been working on getting the mall, which it designated as a key priority for development, for the last 12-14 years.
“Once a viable buyer came in and bought the property it has moved ahead at lightning speed,” Brown said.
Shields said the new owner, CenterCal, has come in with plans that are pretty consistent with the city’s vision.
He said the mall development “really is key” for providing a retail tax base and up to 850 dwelling units.
“It will be a much higher density community and it creates really the heart, together with (EvergreenHealth Medical Center), for that urban center,” Shields said.
This development changes the face of the Totem Lake community, he said.
The city is currently working on a $15 million development agreement with CenterCal. These funds would go toward improving the infrastructure around the mall and in the pubic right of way.
Within the Totem Lake neighborhood, there are also about 15 private developments planned.
“The big focus is on the mall, because that is so visible and important and key to the look and feel of the neighborhood and the economic viability of the whole area,” Brown said. “It has sparked development, between the economy and the development of the mall…There’s just a lot of activity happening right now.”