Northwest NEWS

June 25, 2001

Features

LakePointe design left to market influences

by Jeanette Knutson
   Staff Writer
   No need to get out the gold-plated groundbreaking shovels just yet.
   Kenmore's 45-acre mixed-use development dubbed "urban village" otherwise known as LakePointe proposed to be built at the mouth of the Sammamish River, is "still in the approval part of the process," said John Hamilton, representative of LakePointe Development LLC.
   According to Kenmore Community Development Director Bob Sokol, the developer has been in negotiations with the Department of Ecology over site cleanup.
   "Part of the site contains demolition debris [waste debris from the demolition of houses] from when I[nterstate]-5 went through," said Sokol. "They need to decide what needs cleaning up, what needs monitoring and methods for capping or encasing the site."
   Once the Ecology hurdle is cleared, the developer "needs to design the roadways, storm detention systems, and buildings so that the city [of Kenmore] can review and permit them," said Sokol. "These reviews will be administrative reviews, not subject to appeal."
   Apparently the proposed 1,200 residential units, the 400,000 square feet of retail/commercial space, the 200,000 square feet of office space, the 4,500 parking spaces, the marina slips, the esplanade, the amphitheatre, touted for years, were merely conceptions of the project.
   Hamilton explained, "We need to get through the last of the approvals. Until then, we can't design anything until we know what we're permitted to do."
   Questions like how it will be built, when it will be built and what it will look like will have to wait.
   The actual composition of the development percentage of square footage dedicated to residential, commercial, retail, office space, etc. " ... will be driven by market conditions," said Hamilton. If the office-space market is soft when it's time to build, for instance, developers may opt to decrease the office space component of the project.
   As for the amount of residential space to be included, said Hamilton, "It's too speculative to determine the number of units now."
   The proposed 1,200 housing units were based on 1,000-square-foot footprints. If, when it's time to build, survey data indicates clients would prefer 1,500-square-foot units, the developer would build fewer but larger units.
   Roads to and around the LakePointe development, long since a touchy topic with locals who imagine traffic standstills aplenty, have been thought-out yet remain unbuilt. Back in August of 1998, the Metropolitan-King County Council voted to estalish a Road Improvement District.
   Some $26 million in bonds were to be sold to fund the road improvements.
   "These bonds [were to be] repaid over time through a special assessment on the property tax statements of land owners within LakePointe," said Maggi Fimia, King County Council member representing District One.
   Meanwhile "Nothing has proceeded with respect to the roads [including the floating of bonds] since the project is not under construction yet," said Kenmore's Community Development Director Sokol.
   Still in the plans, though, is the five-lane elevated roadway that cuts from 65th Street on a diagonal southward and hits 68th Avenue Northeast just north of the Sammamish River Bridge. This road will be the primary access to LakePointe Boulevard, the entrance into the development. Transit stops on both sides of Bothell Way are also still on the drawing board, as is a pedestrian bridge over the street, said Sokol.
   Once begun, the $400 million-plus project could take six or more years to build.
   "We hope to be able to begin the first phase next year," Hamilton said. While he concedes they are moving forward, he acknowledges they are in the midst of a very lengthy approval process.
   Said Sokol, "[This development] has been a long time in the making, but we're getting close to seeing it happen."
   For now, it seems, the dream of transforming Kenmore's unused waterfront into a vibrant center with residential units built atop retail space, with streetscapes and meandering walkways leading to public waterways remains mired in a rather formidable permitting process.