Northwest NEWS

December 3, 2001

Local News

Downtown Master Plan in the works

by Bronwyn Wilson
   Senior Staff Reporter
   WOODINVILLE - It was a hit song in the 60s and blared over the airwaves on every radio station. British singer Petula Clark belted out, "Don't hang around and let your problems surround you, there are movie shows ... downtown. Maybe you know some little places to go where they never close ... down-nnn, town-nnn...." Since then, other singers may have attempted to sing about the comfort and joys of downtown, but none have ever sung it quite like Petula.
   However, over at Woodinville City Hall something even better than singing about downtown is in the works. The city is currently developing a plan to make downtown Woodinville as enjoyable as possible. A study for a Downtown Master Plan is a current City Council priority. The purpose for the plan is to work toward goals for the downtown area, such as encouraging mixed-use housing and installing more convenient paths for pedestrians and bicyclists. To assist with the downtown design, the city hired the firm Crandall Arambula of Portland, Oregon.
   City Planner Carl Smith says the city wants the Downtown Master Plan to meet certain objectives, one being to build a strong linkage between City Hall, the downtown section and the Sammamish River.
   In addition, mixed-use housing is a part of the downtown vision. Buildings using the ground floor for professional offices with floors above it used for condominiums are referred to as mixed-use housing. Smith explains that this type of housing has proved successful for many local communities. "One of the important benefits to mixed-use housing," he says, "is that it makes for a more vibrant community."
   He goes on to say that people who live downtown and patronize the movie theaters and shops in the evenings are not only helping local business profits, but are also keeping crime down. "Studies show this has a beneficial impact on reducing crime, and encouraging community involvement," Smith says. "When people are living downtown, it's their community and they care about it. They identify with their town more."
   The city plans other upgrades, such as extending city streets to improve vehicular, pedestrian and bicycle access. They will also study ways to improve environmental aspects.
   "The downtown plan will look at opportunities for more open space," says Smith. As properties redevelop, the city will encourage increased landscaping and environment-friendly green space.
   It's estimated that it will take six to nine months to come up with the complete Downtown Master Plan. But when it's completed, the plan will address regulation changes, policies, themes, and street furniture in an effort to create a unified feeling of the area.
   Once approved, the plan will act as a guide for developers to abide.
   The public will soon be invited to share their ideas and vision for the downtown area. "We're planning an initial kick-off meeting, probably in January." Smith says. "There will be a number of opportunities for public involvement."