Chamber support for BoA, McLeod projects
The City of Kirkland’s Design Review Board has approved plans for redeveloping a block along Lake Street in downtown Kirkland. Two separate projects, one involving the current Bank of America building and the other much of the rest of the block from Hector’s to Ben and Jerry’s (a stretch of buildings owned by developer Stuart McLeod), are the sort of efforts needed to help revitalize a business corridor that needs a boost. The Greater Kirkland Chamber of Commerce supports the Design Review Board’s approvals and encourages the City Council to heed its recommendations.
The approvals of these projects have been appealed. We find the concerns raised in the appeals are far outweighed by the benefits of the proposals. In both cases, current city zoning and design rules were followed by developers in submitting their plans.
The City faces, in its own estimation, a projected budget deficit of $5-6 million. Sound economic development can help address fiscal problems faced by the city.
The two development projects offer the opportunity for new retail stores to locate in downtown, more office space and more customers for downtown businesses, additional parking, and upgrades to dated buildings.
The sooner work starts, the sooner Kirkland will benefit from what these projects will bring to the city.
Changes always create some level of concern, but businesses and citizens should work together for the greater good of the community. Now, with a gloomy economic pall affecting the country, we should be welcoming this investment at a time when other developers are putting things on hold.
~The Greater Kirkland Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors
Anti-growth groups should offer solutions
It’s interesting how the local pressure groups such as CiViK predictably come out against any civic improvement in Kirkland. Many of us would like to see Kirkland grow in a way that is beyond the limited vision of these groups.
A lot of us pro-growth folks are not commercial property owners, and many of us have been here for a long time and can remember the “good old days” of the Richardson’s and JC Penney era.
Traffic is not the biggest issue for us; we like to walk instead of drive, and we know that as soon as we leave downtown Kirkland we will enter heavy traffic anyway. Any commercial development that allows us to decrease our own driving is welcome here. If folks who use downtown Kirkland as a by-pass are inconvenienced, that’s their problem. We’d like it if Kirkland properties were successful enough to contribute tax revenues to support public programs.
Still, it takes all kinds, so I propose that these anti-growth and NIMBY groups pool their own resources and purchase one or more of the developable properties in Kirkland (say the Antique Mall site). They could then lead the way and show us how it’s done. That is: build a structure that would be low rise (two stories), is beautiful with lots of open space, amenities, plenty of public parking, and contributes no additional traffic to Kirkland’s streets. And, of course, it would be nice if the development were commercially viable and didn’t just bring a new series of “For Lease” signs.
~Jim Hitter, Kirkland
Sad predictions for City of Kirkland
The Design Review Board will continue to rubber stamp proposed developments, allow for more ugly, tall monolithic buildings in Kirkland’s CBD.
Touchstone Development has presented two distinct development plans for Park Place: one undesirable, but meeting comprehensive planning requirements, the other with more public open space, with eight story buildings and zero setbacks on Central Way.
It’s called community design hostage taking. Despite public criticism, the council will scrap the comprehensive plan, allowing eight story buildings that will block views and ruin what little charm is left in Kirkland.
Businesses downtown will continue to turn over, not because of a lack of parking, but because they aren’t offering services to every day residents. The city is starting to talk about declining service levels because of budget shortfalls, but the Council will eventually proceed with a vote on annexation even if it’s not in the economic interests of our community.
The annexation vote will pass, as property owners in the unincorporated areas will want better services. King County and Kirkland staff have understated the costs of incorporating this area. King County has a track record of deferred maintenance.
How about Kirkland’s recent half-million allocation to take care of Juanita Beach flooding problems, formally a King County Park? Tax payers will pay for the Council’s annexation decisions for decades. My last prediction, the quality of life will continue to deteriorate because local government isn’t listening to its citizens. Remember Council decisions at election time.
~Pat Harris, Kirkland
Praise for Council’s no-go on annexation
The Kirkland City Council’s 4-3 straw poll against annexation at the April 15 study session should be applauded by all — be they citizens of Kirkland or residents of the PAA.
For Kirkland citizens, they need not worry about higher taxes and lower service levels that would destroy the city. Over $50 million in facilities costs alone will not be incurred.
This outcome is also a good result for the people of the PAA too (though some may not yet realize it). Rather than being buried in a financial quicksand because of annexation, the PAA can now peruse other alternatives in their legitimate quest for better services.
We in Kirkland and nearby cities should help our neighbors attain the services they need.
The annexation was not financially sound and that is why it failed. If it had passed, it would have bankrupt Kirkland.
Hopefully, we can all move on to brighter horizons, freed from the false hopes and financial shackles of annexation. Thank you to the Kirkland City Council for making a tough decision. Kirkland and the PAA will not be forever doomed by the crushing and insurmountable expenses of annexation.
~Rob Butcher, Kirkland
Mega-homes builders forget neighbors
I know “Mega Mansions” are a nationwide problem just as the secondary mortgage market fiasco isn’t just WAMU’s problem, but it represents an ugly pattern of greed that has now descended upon Kirkland.
Kirkland has been known for its ‘hidden’ wealthy people, not for ostentatious displays of wealth, but that has changed recently with the huge compounds being built around town and the reconstruction of downtown Kirkland — to the dismay of many disgruntled long-time residents.
A recent statement by a Ms. Liedes puts it simply — move if you don’t like it. I guess she, along with many of our younger generation, have forgotten what being an American is about. According to Thomas Jefferson, one person’s life, liberty and pursuit of happiness stops at one’s fellow citizen’s rights to the same. Apparently, that is not what our current newcomers seems to think.
They don’t know what being neighborly is about — only that their dream home is much more important than their long time neighbor’s dream home — just as they think they are. It will only get worse with the Google crowd wanting to impose their wishes on our already established neighborhoods. They have no intention of “fitting in,” but of replacing old with new, bigger and better.
The fact that their monstrous homes damage the culture of neighborliness escapes them as they simply don’t value neighbors. What made Kirkland attractive in recent years was not only its proximity to Seattle/Bellevue, but the small town lifestyle and neighborliness. Without an immediate action by our city council to direct city hall to change its policies, that lifestyle will be ploughed under.
~Sammie Standal, Kirkland