The people of Kirkland are all abuzz about the talk of re-developing Kirkland Park Place. Our quaint little shopping center could use a boost for sure, but the source of contention seems to be that Douglas Howe of Touchstone Corporation is requesting a private amendment to (a) increase the building height restriction from 3-5 stories to 5-8 stories and (b) reduce building setbacks from 20 feet to zero feet along Central Way. And, logically, there's some sort of fast-tracked timeline to have a decision made by the end of the year so they can seize the current commercial office space opportunity.
The City of Kirkland has a nice memo on the subject dated May 7th found here that gives you a good overview. Here's some additional reading on the subject. The plan proposes numerous buildings with ground floor retail and restaurant space and several floors of office space above. There's also 2 hotels, a sport club, and some above ground residential units with subterranean parking under most of the site with limited surface parking. It's not too clear if our movie theater would stay. I'm not sure what happens to all of the retailers that are there today- could they afford to stay? I'm curious why these proposed hotels would be permitted to go to higher heights when The Heathman also asked for an exception and was denied?
I did have a chance to listen to Mr. Howe (who also developed our new Marriott Courtyard in Totem Lake-pic right) speak at one of our neighborhood association meetings. A sort of mad scientist guy with trendy dark rimmed glasses and waving arms-he's very enthusiastic about his many drawings and visions, but pretty glossy when it comes to the details. He did stress the whole picture of 'inter-connectivity' with walking paths from KPP through the park and surrounding areas to encourage Kirkland to be more of a pedestrian downtown core. I liked that part. And I also generally like the prospect of taking KPP to the next level- it's time. But when I asked Mr. Howe if he had any plans to put together focus groups as he moves forward (b/c I'm interested in contributing). He looked at me like I was an alien and I had to explain to him what a focus group was.
Anyway- I still feel like there's a lot of homework that needs to be done- what about our Kirkland Teen Union Building and the Senior Center? What about traffic and parking? What about the input of our citizens? How does this all jive with our strategic plan? Why is a developer telling us how quickly we need to move? The City promises us they will have a webpage with updates on this subject soon. Let's all stay tuned so this one doesn't hit the pedal without us. Did anyone attend the city council meeting Tuesday night that can give us an update on what's happening? ~Janis