LETTER | How much growth does Houghton really need?

Should Houghton Everest Center increase from 143,000 sq feet to 1,000,000 sq ft with 850 apartments and 5 story mixed use with underground parking? Compare this to the new and very large Parkplace development Kirkland Urban with 1,200,000 square feet.

I am a longtime Kirkland resident and am troubled by the immense amount of retail, multi-family, & office mixed use construction planned and considered by the City of Kirkland west of I-405 in Central Kirkland. I am most apprehensive about the 5 story, 55’ foot tall buildings under review for the Houghton and Everest Neighborhood Center (where Metropolitan Market, Starbucks, PCC, 7-11 and multi-family apartments on 106th are located). The Houghton Everest Center is a thriving retail center for Kirkland and doesn’t need to be fixed. 106th is a narrow road and can’t handle additional traffic and multi-story buildings on each side. City web site: http://www.kirklandwa.gov/depart/planning/Development_Info/projects/he6th.htm

The City has already met Comprehensive Plan Growth Management goals. According to the Mayor’s State of the City address Kirkland could have in the pipeline 4,500 residential units, 746,000 sq. ft. of office space, and 760,000 sq. ft. of commercial/retail.

The city conducted a survey and held a workshop asking for input. They didn’t say it would be larger by 7 times and add 3,300+ daily trips and mostly offer underground parking. Even with limited information, people overwhelmingly favored keeping low scale development and not adding to traffic. They asked to fix the traffic situation first. Is the City Council going to listen to their residents who have been speaking up since 2012 against an increase in zoning, or the Planning Commission and owners/developers who have so much to gain financially?

The City’s Transportation expert said the intersection at NE 68th and 108th is the one of the city’s worst and is at a failing level with a 20-minute wait and 1.25 mile back-ups. Traffic could get 15% worse here by 2035; if this area is maxed out it could be 25% worse and a 25-minute wait. What is your time worth?

Now is not the time to make any changes to zoning here. Wait until 8 story Kirkland Urban is completed. Kirkland Urban will add 650,000 sq. ft. office space, 180,000 sq. ft. retail, 300 apartments and over 2,400 parking spaces. What will this scale add to our already clogged streets?

If you share my concerns about this development at Houghton/Everest Center you should write to the City of Kirkland Planning Commission, Kirkland City Council and Houghton Community Council. A recommendation from the Planning Commission is expected with-in the next 6 weeks.

Sandy Helgeson

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