A host of city and county dignitaries on Wednesday put a new twist on the old Joni Mitchell song about paving paradise to put up a parking lot, celebrating the beginning of work on what Kirkland Mayor Joan McBride said amounted to the opposite.
“We are now taking a parking lot and putting up a paradise,” she joked during groundbreaking ceremonies for the South Kirkland Park & Ride “Transit-oriented development.” “Joni Mitchell should be here! We are so grateful to have affordable housing in this beautiful Lakeview neighborhood.”
Ten years in the making, the development is a partnership between King County, the cities of Kirkland and Bellevue, private enterprise and affordable housing advocates that will create 242 apartments, 7,000 square feet of ground floor retail space and increase capacity at the crowded park & ride.
Work is already underway on a 532-stall parking garage scheduled to open in the summer of 2013. Developer Polygon Northwest will build a mixed-use community with 184 “market rate” residences and the ground-floor retail space, set to open in 2014. Bellevue-based Imagine Housing, a local non-profit affordable housing developer, will build 58 affordable residences.
Some of the project will be funded by a mix of state and federal grants, as well and municipal funding by Bellevue and Kirkland through ARCH, or A Regional Coaltion for Housing, a partnership of Eastside cities.
The idea is to create a village of market rate and affordable housing with services at a regional transit hub. The south Kirkland development will be the 14th such development in King County.
King County Executive Dow Constantine said the project is being built sustainably, using geothermal heating and reusing some 95 percent of the existing material that will be demolished to create the new project. He noted it is sustaining 100 union jobs.
“Can you believe this day has come Kurt?” he asked, recalling conversations years ago with his former county colleague Kurt Triplett, now the city manager of Kirkland.
Said Bellevue Mayor Conrad Lee: “This project is another great example of what can be accomplished when we work together with our regional partners. The new South Kirkland Park & Ride promotes transit ridership along the SR 520 corridor, supports Bellevue’s policy to pursue affordable housing opportunities, and strengthens the integration of transportation and land use.”
The residential portion of the development will be along the south edge of Kirkland, while the parking garage will be just inside Bellevue. The development required the approval of both city councils and the King County Council. It required changes to the City of Kirkland’s Comprehensive Plan and creation of new zoning regulations for its Yarrow Bay Business District.
“I want to just bask in the glow of the moment because it took 10 years to get here,” McBride said. “I want to welcome you to our new south Kirkland gateway community.”
She noted that not only will the development be located at a regional transit hub, but also one right next to State Route 520 and the newly acquired railroad bed of the Cross Kirkland Corridor.
“It’s intended to foster and grow the business district with stronger economic development opportunities for mixed use, new jobs and housing that are close to transportation routes,” McBride said.
After their comments, Constantine, Lee and McBride joined King Council Councilwoman Jane Hague, Polygon Northwest President Gary Young and Imagine Housing Executive Director Ann Levine in tossing shovels of sand to symbolically break ground on the project.