Saturday, March 2, 2013

Redmond's identity crisis

Where did all the outdoor art go that is now replaced by a parking lot?  The city does have a call for artists to plan art for the Cleveland Street corridor. 

Five more buildings will be torn down in the next four months to make room for an expanded Downtown Park.  Few will use the park until the downtown builds out.  It will be an eerie place for a while. 

What's holding back Leary Way from developing with quaint shops while right next door a tall crane builds a 6 story apartment community abutting the sidewalk?

Western brick and wood buildings are being dwarfed by multi-colored high tech apartment communities.  Do they match up?  

Thousands of residents will be moving into downtown Redmond bringing with them more congested roads and pedestrians you can barely see..   Where is the street lighting?

The city has been planning to reconfigure 166th Ave from four lanes to three lanes for safety for many years.  Will the Mayor have the guts to stay on schedule before his term ends?

Currently Downtown Redmond has about 2800 residents.

By 2030 the Administration's vision is 13,000 residents. We are facing a crisis of growth for years to come. 

Bob Yoder, opinion


Councilmember Kim Allen said...

Thank you for the conversation, Bob. As downtown Redmond builds out, it is my wish and intent for the old and new to complement each other. The Downtown park already hosted several successful outdoor concerts last summer and I have often seen folks throwing a ball or frisbee or stopping to sit s spell at the red tables-weather permitting, of course. As the Redmond Way/Cleveland St. Corridor is restored to 2 way traffic over the next couple of years, the elements like street lighting and such will be added to give us a more walkable downtown.
I have been working hard on regional transit to make sure Redmond gets what we need to get more folks out of their cars to lessen congestion. I can tell you that there are many cities competing for a limited pot of transit dollars and hours. We work regionally to keep Redmond at the table as a leader to deliver the transit that is such an important part of a green and walkable Redmond. Through those regional efforts, we are working in partnership with Metro to plan to try out some new ways to access transit in our neighborhoods.

As to the 166th St. 4 to 3 conversion, Councilmember Margeson and I took a firm stand and insisted that adequate funding be put aside in our capital fund during this budget session to do that work as soon as possible. We moved funds from a less urgent project to do so. It is a priority for safety and to give Ed Hill folks a comfortable environment to choose to walk and bike where they need to go.
Change and growth are always a challenge but I believe we can integrate those elements that make Redmond a great place to call home, even as we prepare to welcome more people who will also call it home.

amanda said...

166th has already been reconfigured into 3 lanes.

As a downtown resident, I am totally appalled at all the reckless development. The planning department is even allowing the new housing to provide less parking than was initially required. Apparently there is now an exception for the downtown area. Parking is going to get much, much worse and traffic is also. This isn't the peaceful friendly town I originally moved to.

Thanks for the Blog,


Bob Yoder said...

Thanks for your comments, Amanda. There is still a section of 166th between 83rd and 98th that is not reconfigured to three lanes. If you think parking is bad now wait until there are 4X as many residents in the least that's the vision. I guess they are hoping most of them won't have cars or will want to use them.

Brian Hansford said...

The new downtown park is a joke, to put it bluntly. Uprooting businesses that have invested heavily still doesn't make sense to me. The Brown Bldg in particular rankles me. (Are they still planning on tearing that down?) I have heard zero passionate citizen outcry for a new park. None. Zilch. I haven't heard anyone say "Dammit! Let's tear down these buildings and uproot businesses for a park NOW!" What I did see was a side group funded by a government grant push the park idea because it was part of some mysterious year long centennial celebration that was a flop. (The bonfire was cool though!) I'm sure I will be absolutely blown away by a new park that has no parking. However for now I don't see the value.

Bob you also point out some other items that have been on deck waiting for action for a long time. I didn't realize 166th was still on the table. That's too bad. It's a change that really isn't needed. Fortunately there have been some government decision-making problems to keep it from being implemented.

Good post Bob!

Brian Hansford

Bob Yoder said...

Hi Brian -
I read a RR article a few weeks ago that the city decided not to hold back on the full development of the DT park and they were ripping out those buildings, including your favorite Brown Building.

Anonymous said...

When will Redmond Way and Cleveland go back to two-way?

Susan Wilkins said...

Where are the children from the new apartments and condos in downtown Redmond supposed to go to school? Redmond Elementary is already near capacity with 401 students and Redmond Middle School is seriously overcrowded with 970 students. Nearly 400 elementary students from the east side of Redmond (Woodbridge, Evans Creek & Hidden Ridge) are bused out to Dickinson Elementary and Alcott Elementary every day. Both of these schools are more than 3 miles outside the city limits. Students from River Trail, north of QFC, are bussed up to Rockwell Elementary. It seems like the vision for downtown Redmond is walkability - walk to shops, walk to parks, walk to entertainment, walk to the transit center. But walk to school? Forget-about-it! Why hasn’t the City of Redmond told the school district to plan for students living in the downtown area and insisted that they build schools to meet the walkability model that is being developed?

The school district says that there isn’t enough land available to build schools in downtown Redmond. Note that Lake Washington Institute of Technology (LWIT) built a satellite campus next to Marymoor Park in 2004 and DigiPen just moved into its new campus along Willows Road last year. A number of churches/religious groups have converted warehouses in the industrial areas that are comparable to a typical school in size and space usage. Redmond could really use another elementary and a middle school downtown (or maybe a K-8) that residents could walk to.

Bob Yoder has hit a nerve when asking what the future identity of downtown Redmond is going to be. Maybe the plan is to create a thriving, exciting downtown for Yuppies (young urban professionals) and DINKs (Dual Income, No Kids) in which case, downtown schools will not be needed. If children are supposed to be part of downtown Redmond, then the City needs to open a dialogue with the school district about where they will go to school within the City limits – and insist that the schools be located where children can actually walk to school.

Bob Yoder said...

Hi Anonymous - Last time I heard the mayor speak about this, the Redmond Way and Cleveland Av couplet won't be reconfigured to two-way roads until after the Mayor's office election - about 4 years from now.

However, they are working on Cleveland Ave. now to make it more pedestrian friendly and congruous with the new linear park (old railway).