Former Kirkland councilman hopes new developments spark excellence

As the Parkplace plans for redevelopment progress, the nearby Areté Kirkland on Central Way is starting to fill up.

As the Parkplace plans for redevelopment progress, the nearby Areté Kirkland on Central Way is starting to fill up.

Local developer former Kirkland City Council member Robert Pantley of Natural Built Environments said the first three buildings have been completed, with two more to come. Both are expected to be completed sometime this spring.

The residential space, which includes micro-apartments with community kitchens, is intended to provide a living space for artists to work and live in downtown Kirkland. Out of the 152 units, he said, around 122 have been leased already.

The name “Areté” comes from a Greek word which refers to moral virtue or “excellence of any kind,” and for Pantley it represents the kind of atmosphere they want to promote for the artists.

“It’s excellence in the human endeavor,” he said. “It’s about being the best you can be to the point of being virtuous, to really mean it and to live it. None of us are perfect we all strive to be perfect.”

The apartments are also designed for those who work in Kirkland and want to avoid commuting but aren’t able to afford high rent in the area, though some retail and restaurants are planned.

The residential units also appeal to those like Dierdre Thomas, who used to teach art and did abstract painting before a health condition impacted the use of her hands and required her to use a cane to get around. Living at Vision Five in Redmond, another one of Pantley’s residential developments, she moved to Areté to take advantage of its ideal location in downtown, along with the handicap-friendly elevators that allow her to live on an upper floor. Last month for Christmas, Pantley furnished her with a scooter to help her get around downtown easier.

Although she’s not doing art anymore, Thomas said Areté appeals to artists.

“I think a lot of it too is the atmosphere,” she said. “You’re around a bunch of different people who really have the drive to want to produce the art.”

The community space includes an artist room and a private music jam room where people can play music and have dinner. There is also another large conference room open to the public for free.

“People are always trying to find places for them to meet,” he said. “City hall is always filled up, so we have a place just for people to meet. It’s a real challenge for people to understand it’s free.”

Since Areté opened late last summer, it has attracted new organizational and business tenants such as the Kirkland Chamber of Commerce, which was forced to move from its Parkplace office across the street, and Pantley said they anticipate more tenants as word gets around.

“We love Kirkland and we really believe in Kirkland,” he said. “The personality of Arete reflects that.”