Northwest NEWS

June 5, 2000

Local News

Kenmore approves LakePointe proposal

by Christina Coughlin, special to the Weekly

   KENMORE--On May 26, the City of Kenmore held a press conference confirming the approval of the revised LakePointe proposal, a project developers have been planning since 1989.

   LakePointe, which will be located on about 45 acres owned by Pioneer Towing Co., at the north end of Lake Washington, where the Sammamish River enters the lake, will include a marina, 1,200 condos, and about 650,000 square feet of office and retail space, including a movie theater and a supermarket.

   LakePointe will probably increase traffic along and 68th Avenue Northeast and Highway 522, which is one of the reasons it has taken so long to get approval.

   Kenmore residents Dan and Bonnie Olsen have scrutinized the proposal since 1998 and are reluctant to believe the current one will work.

   "We want to make sure the development is an appropriate size for the infrastructure [the city] can provide," said Bonnie Olsen.

   Bob Sokol, the director of community development for Kenmore, said that the developers have met the "intersection standards" set forth by King County. "We think they address the traffic in the appropriate manner," stated Sokol.

   As part of the project, developers plan to build a new road connecting Highway 522 with 68th Avenue Northeast, to be called LakePointe Way Northeast, and add additional lanes to 68th Avenue Northeast, which is intended to alleviate traffic congestion.

   They are also calling the proposal "pedestrian-friendly," in that the community center would discourage people from driving by including walkways, provide easy access to the Burke-Gilman trail and bus stops, and a pedestrian bridge over Highway 522.

   "The people who buy waterfront condos aren't going to ride Metro," said Bonnie Olsen, insisting the "pedestrian-friendly" environment will not do much for traffic.

   Sokol said that the development will be a community where some people will be able to live, work, and shop without having to use a vehicle, which might help reduce some traffic congestion.

   Bonnie Olsen, who, along with her husband, has hired a private traffic engineer to analyze the current proposal, is not against Lakepointe entirely. Kenmore needs LakePointe, she said, but the city can still be prosperous "if the development is a little smaller."

   When LakePointe was originally proposed, it included only 1,000 condos. Bonnie Olsen said she believed that amount to be more appropriate.

   Sokol said that LakePointe will provide residents with three things people have been asking for: opportunities for shopping and restaurants, access to the waterfront, and "a good tax base."

   King County approved LakePointe in 1998, but due to an appeal filed by the Olsens, the King County Hearing Examiner found that the proposed new intersection of LakePointe Way and 68th Avenue Northeast did not comply with King County intersection standards.

   The Olsens have not yet decided if they will appeal the current proposal.

Christina Coughlin is a student in the University of Washington School of Communications News Laboratory.