Northwest NEWS

July 22, 2002

Front Page

Woodinville's changing downtown landscape

by Bronwyn Wilson
   Senior Staff Reporter
   With 918 building permits currently processing at City Hall's Permit Center, construction in Woodinville shows no sign of slowing down. As more businesses and housing developments move in, the needs of the city will continue to grow. And to meet those needs for the 21st century, the City of Woodinville has a number of plans set in motion, including a plan for downtown, the tourist district and a new Civic Center to name a few. Two of the plans, the Downtown Master Plan and the Little Bear Creek Corridor Plan were recently presented to the community in a series of workshop meetings. Fifty or more citizens attended each meeting, evaluating design options and offering their comments and suggestions. Once the downtown and corridor designs have been finalized, reflecting the input of Woodinville's citizens, the plans will move forward to the Planning and Parks & Recreation Commissions.
   "The Downtown Master Plan and the Little Bear Creek Corridor Plan are scheduled to be presented to the Planning and Parks & Recreation Commissions October 2nd," states City Planner Carl Smith. "In the meantime," he adds, "we're planning to put out a color graphic mailer to everyone in the city. Everyone will have the chance to vote and comment on features of the proposed plans." In past workshops, citizens have supported the following features proposed for the downtown area: 4-story mixed-use buildings (or a maximum height of 55 feet) with retail space on the ground floor and housing on upper floors. Creekside Gardens, scheduled for construction at 140 Ave. NE and the Woodinville Snohomish Road, serves as an example. The 4-story building will have retail shops on the street level and 84 apartments for seniors above. Smith points out that a pedestrian-oriented path throughout the downtown area falls into the schematic of the Downtown Master Plan, though still several years away. The walking path would loop from City Hall, toward the new Woodinville shopping complex along Garden Way, back through the Little Bear Creek corridor (the parallel area between SR 522 and Little Bear Creek Parkway, previously called 177th) and onward toward the Sammamish River Trail, finally ending up at the City Hall starting point. The City's focus for downtown development, however, centers on Garden Way. Says Smith, "It would be a central point in the City's center and act as a magnet, drawing private investment. It would be the city's heart, a place for play and gatherings." To spur re-development, the City will add landscaping and easier road access, placing small park-like blocks of grass and trees all the way from City Hall up to Garden Way and also extending Garden Way to the south by-pass on 131st Ave. NE.
   In addition to the 4-story buildings citizens envision along Garden Way, they envision even taller buildings for the Little Bear Creek corridor and support an increased height of 67 feet or 5-story buildings for that area. Senior City Planner Becky Perkins explains that the City hopes to develop the area as an employment center, "Right now the corridor has general commercial zoning intended for big box auto-retail type uses," she says. "We're proposing office type uses along the corridor. One of the reasons office space makes sense in that area is because it opens up our city for high tech and other office-oriented companies."
   A linear park, also proposed, will link the office buildings to a park-like setting adjacent to Little Bear Creek. A provision in the city code allows for soft walking trails in the 100-foot buffer zone along the salmon-bearing stream.
   Citizens will have the opportunity to comment on land use options for the Little Bear Creek corridor at a final workshop scheduled for July 25th. Perkins mentions what's on the agenda for that evening. "We're going to be rolling out some land use alternatives that will include any changes to existing allowed land uses. The community and property owners will have an opportunity to respond to that."
   Consultant, Crandall Arambula, has worked with city staff to develop design concepts for the downtown and Little Bear Creek corridor. The designs keep in line with citizen input as well as the City's vision stated in the Comprehensive Plan that Woodinville be 'a pleasant place to live, work, play and visit.' The City hopes for adoption of both plans this fall.
   The final workshop on Thursday, July 25 will begin at 6:30 p.m. For further information, contact Senior City Planner Becky Perkins at (425) 489-2757, Ext. 2283.