Although no developer has proposed any specific project, the City of Kirkland this week is beginning the process of adopting new development regulations for the Houghton/Everest business area, prompting alarm among some residents.
Designated a Neighborhood Center by the city, the area of focus surrounds the primary intersection of Houghton, at NE 68th Street and 6th Street South/108th Avenue NE.
The future of residential, office and retail occupants there is being studied by the city Planning Commission and the Houghton Community Council, with a series of three “Neighborhood Dialogues” beginning Tuesday, Sept. 25.
City Senior Planner Angela Ruggeri said the “Houghton/Everest Neighborhood Center Study” will review regulations for the area, primarily for limits to building heights, residential densities and business space sizes, as part of the normal process by the city to update its Comprehensive Plan. But apparently some residents believe there is a specific proposal to redevelop the district because of conceptual design sketches the city created to illustrate what kind of development certain regulation changes would allow.
“There is no development proposed,” she said. “People have seen those drawings and think there is a proposal, but that’s not the case.”
One of the conceptual drawings is being used to illustrate this story. All of them can be found on the attached City of Kirkland PDF file.
Although they do not illustrate any specific project, the conceptual designs themselves are prompting some negative reactions from neighbors. Some neighbors say they are not opposed to carefully planned development in the area, but are concerned about the scope of future development and its impact on traffic and the character of the neighborhood.
Lakeview resident Duston Harvey said he would prefer a planned conversion over time of the current arrangement of strip malls there and favors “proposals for street-front retail, wider sidewalks, pedestrian corridors, connections to the new cross-city trail and design reviews of new buildings." But he fears the city might rush into an extreme makeover of the area.
“The proposed building heights (from the current 30-foot limit to 55 feet, allowing five-story buildings) and density are completely out of scale with the surrounding neighborhood and are designed mainly to attract apartment/condo and office development,” he told Kirkland Patch in an email.
All three of the neighborhood dialogue meetings will be at the Houghton Fire Station 22, 6602 108th Avenue NE, and all start at 7 p.m. They are Sept. 25, Oct. 3 and Oct. 9.
The city wants to ask residents, property owners and business owners for their visions of the area, and will first brief the public on preliminary proposals and the city’s desire to promote a mix of commercial and residential uses, transportation improvements and allow higher density in certain parts of the Neighborhood Center. Facilitated discussions will follow.
The input the city receives will be presented to the Planning Commission and Houghton Community Council at a joint public hearing tentatively scheduled for October 25, 7:00, City Hall, 123 5th Avenue.
Also, the Houghton Community Council will be discussing the planning process for the area at its meeting tonight (Monday, Sept, 24) at City Hall, 6 p.m.
For background information and to subscribe to receive email updates on the Houghton/Everest Neighborhood Center Study, visit www.kirklandwa.gov/neighborhoodcenter.
What is your vision for the Houghton/Everest business area? Is the city moving too fast and too big? Please tell us in the comments box below, we want to know what you think!