The on Kirkland’s upscale Lake Street would change the character of the neighborhood and mean more traffic and delays for motorists, according to a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) released by the city Thursday.
However, it also says traffic would still fall within city’s threshold, and that the developer could mitigate the project's impacts to meet the city’s regulations and vision for development.
The proposal by developer Longsang Dargey of Dargey Enterprises for a 143-unit apartment complex with office space on 1.2 acres along scenic Lake Street has been met by fierce opposition from a group of neighbors. They object to the the number of units planned and the project’s impact on traffic, property values and the aesthetics of the scenic lakefront neighborhood, which is marked by some of Kirkland’s signature shoreline parks, , and.
In May, Dargey and his wife, Tamara Agassi Dargey, along with the company Potala Village Kirkland LLC, filed the suit in King County Superior Court against the city for twice extending a moratorium on development in areas with the site’s zoning category, “BN,” for neighborhood business. The City Council also directed the Planning Commission to review the BN zoning designation after angry neighbors pointed out it allowed unlimited densities, unlike the city’s other zoning designations.
Although the draft EIS anticipates no significant unavoidable impacts if proposed mitigating measures are adopted, city Planning Director Eric Shields said it does not give the developer a green light to proceed.
“There are adverse impacts. One is the bulk and mass of the project, and traffic,” he said. “From a developer’s point of view, could some of the mitigations proposed” affect the viability of the project? “I don’t know.”
The release of the EIS triggers a 43-day comment period that ends Aug 24 and includes an Aug. 14 public hearing, at 7 p.m. in the City Council Chambers. The city anticipates that a final EIS will be issued in October, after which a decision will be made on whether to issue the project a shoreline development permit. The next step would be the issuance of a building permit, pending any appeals to the shoreline permit. The EIS process was triggered by the State Environmental Policy Act due to the project’s proximity to Lake Washington.
Shields said the biggest impacts would be on how the project’s size would change the aesthetics of the neighborhood -- a mix of single-family and multi-unit developments with predominantly lower densities -- and on traffic in the area, which is already considered bad at peak times.
However, the EIS says the impact of the structure’s bulk could be lessened by landscape buffers, a stepped-back upper floor, use of deep balconies, splitting the project into two buildings, reducing its footprint or reducing the number of floors.
On the development's bulk and mass it concludes: “Development on the project site will change its existing character and the long-term relationship of the site to the surrounding area over the long term. However, with implementation of proposed mitigating measures, the proposal is expected to meet the city’s vision for development in the BN zone and no significant unavoidable adverse impacts to aesthetics are anticipated.”
The EIS says traffic impacts would be unavoidable but would "not exceed the city’s adopted thresholds for significance, and thus they would not be considered a significant unavoidable adverse impact.”
Kirkland Patch is attempting to contact the developer and will update this story if he replies.
To see the full EIS, go to the City of Kirkland web pages here. To read all of Kirkland Patch’s coverage of the proposed Potala Village development, which is at 10th Avenue South and Lake Street, click here.