City’s updates to Rose Hill, Bridle Trails neighborhood plans underway

The updates would consolidate the two Rose Hill neighborhood plans.

Two east Kirkland neighborhoods will likely be consolidated following an update to several of Kirkland’s neighborhood plans.

The Rose Hill district is currently split into north and south neighborhoods, with a special business subarea dividing them and stretching along Northeast 85th Street. The plans for these areas are being fully updated for the first time in 15 years, along with the Bridle Trails neighborhood plan. These plans establish and guide the city’s vision for growth and how to retain each neighborhood’s character.

Kirkland deputy planning director Adam Weinstein said the plan saw a minor update in 2015 with the city’s comprehensive plan update. The city updates neighborhood plans on a rotating basis.

“There was a sense that, you know, these are neighborhoods where change is happening,” he said.

The first draft of the neighborhood update has been finished. The consolidation of the Rose Hill neighborhoods, split by Northeast 85th Street, was based on input from residents who said they use amenities and services in both areas. From the city’s perspective, managing the neighborhoods as one also makes sense.

“We think that combining, and the neighborhood thinks, that combining the neighborhood into one would help with that,” he said.

Robert Iracheta, North Rose Hill Neighborhood Association chair, said he supported the consolidation. While the city will treat the neighborhood as a single entity, both the north and south Rose Hill neighborhood associations will remain.

“I think it made sense, like I said, because 85th binds us together and with all the businesses that are involved there,” he said.

North Rose Hill stretches north from Northeast 85th Street to Totem Lake while South Rose Hill travels from the thoroughfare to Bridle Trails in the south. Bridle Trails in southeast Bellevue has a small commercial center, a major equestrian park and semi-rural horse facilities.

While most of North Rose Hill is developed, there are still many tracts of land that can be developed on, the draft update read. Low-density neighborhoods surrounding the concentrated commercial and residential zones near Totem Lake and Northeast 85th Street will be preserved under the city’s plan by allowing growth in those areas and keeping surrounding neighborhood areas zoned at a lower density.

Residential neighborhoods will keep a zoning of generally no more than six housing units per acre, while medium density tracts between commercial and residential zones near the Interstate 405 interchange can have up to 12 units per acre. Along Northeast 85th Street, the city is allowing some portions to be built up to 24 units per acres. This same zoning approach will be used on the south side of Northeast 85th Street to concentrate growth near bus stops and a proposed transit station near the interstate interchange.

Two large projects are already underway along Northeast 85th Street. The first is known as the Rose Hill mixed-use project by Madison Development Group. It has proposed building a 1.09-million-square-foot development with up to 650 apartments at 12040 Northeast 85th Street,which currently houses a strip mall. The other is the Continental Divide project along Northeast 85th Street and 132nd Avenue Northeast where Merit Homes is hoping to build 133 additional apartments along with some retail space.

These projects are being built along Northeast 85th Street and near transit to encourage residents to walk, bike or take the bus instead of driving and adding more traffic to surrounding neighborhoods. Commercial development will remain inside commercially zoned areas along Northeast 85th Street and to the north bordering Totem Lake.

Weinstein said encouraging more affordable housing was high on the list of community interests. The city will encourage the development of new housing types in Rose Hill single-family home neighborhoods, including cottages, compact homes, townhouses and apartments to create more housing stock. While these won’t create true affordable housing, Weinstein said the city is hoping more cheaper units will free up less expensive options for low-income renters.

Kirkland requires 10 percent of all newly-built housing units in a project to be marketed as affordable for people making 80 percent of the area median income or less. If the developer builds more, the city can offer incentives like increasing building height.

For the Bridle Trails neighborhood, the city is planning the majority of it zoned for low-residential uses, with some areas having a density of one to three units per acres. The one exception is the Bridle Trails shopping center, which could see increased density. In order to bring in more local retailers to the center, there needs to be an increased number of people who would use it, Weinstein said.

“We need some sort of captive customer base at the shopping center,” he said.

Increasing density at the shopping center to encourage more dense residential development could do that, but the city is working with residents in the neighborhood to hash out a plan. It could include creating guidelines for how taller buildings could be constructed, connecting neighborhoods to the center with walkways and creating open spaces.

“I’m confident that we’ll arrive at a solution that helps the community realize their vision for the shopping center,” he said.