Plans are underway to redevelop Kirkland’s only mobile home park in the Juanita neighborhood into residential property.
Although nothing formal has been submitted to the city of Kirkland yet, home building company PSW Real Estate said they hope to build 18-19 new single-family subdivisions on the Firwood Mobile Park property located at 12308 93rd Lane NE, where approximately three dozen people currently live.
One of the new owners, Ben Rutkowski, Seattle Division president for PSW Real Estate, said they were attracted to the property due to its ideal proximity to Juanita Village, Juanita Beach Park, as well as being located within the Lake Washington School District.
“Being a Kirkland resident myself, I see the value in these community assets,” he wrote in an email.
Originally based in Austin, Rutkowski said PSW is looking to expand into the Seattle real estate market, with Firwood being their first community in Kirkland.
They hope to start construction on the site by the summer of 2016, according to Rutkowski.
Since 1998, the property has seen its value triple from $670,700 to roughly $1.9 million, according to the King County Tax Accessor.
For the current residents, however, the redevelopment plans means they will have to find a new place to put their homes. While Rutkowski said they have offered residents a 12-month lease extension or month-to-month leases and anticipates all the homes will be removed by then, some residents are less hopeful. Others were under the impression that the property could never be developed due to Juanita Creek, which runs directly west of the property. Several Firwood residents spoke during public comment of the City Council’s April 7 meeting, including a woman who said many of them had purchased homes in the belief that buffers around Juanita Creek would make it impossible for the mobile park to be developed. Another resident, who has lived in the park for 15 years and served as the park manager, warned that many are financially unable to move their homes and will simply walk away from them.
“There’s no way we’ll be able to find affordable housing in the Kirkland area,” she said. “As a community, we are a community of families. Everybody knows each other. It’s not something you always have everywhere.”
One man who moved to the mobile park in 2005 said he was confused as to why previous owners were unable to redevelop but the new owner is allowed. City Planner Tony Leavitt said one possibility for that is the previous owners were unable to build the type of development they wanted. No zoning changes will need to be made in order to accommodate the project, according to Leavitt. PSW’s plan calls for a low impact development for stormwater, which affects the way development and stormwater is managed.
Rutkowski said they are encouraging the residents to reach out to the State Department of Commerce for financial assistance in relocating their homes.
The mobile park is legally owned by Firwood Land, LP, with the general partner being PSW Seattle, LLC. PSW Homes, LLC is a member of PSW Seattle, LLC.