Tuesday, August 2, 2022

UPDATED: Redmond 2050 Visioning Workshop

My beautiful wife Pam on left.  Planning Manager Jeff Churchill wearing red shirt. Yasir Alfarag with Berk Consulting in middle. Credit, Bob Yoder

This map is the starting point, before participants shuffled Legos according to their perspective of 2050. The white Lego stacks represent existing jobs.  Five urban centers including residential neighborhoods were mapped:  Overlake, Downtown, Marymoor, SE Redmond, and "NE 90th & Willows" local center. Overlake is slated to accommodate half the jobs in the city.  Can you find the "NE 90th & Willows" local center?  

The Redmond 2050 "Draft Environment Impact Statement" (DEIS) is much more than visioning the Redmond environment.  It's a living story about "how we can accommodate anticipated growth."  

I enjoy visioning in general, but was confused by the "DEIS" acronym and so brushed Redmond 2050 aside until Pam and I attended a "Visioning Lego Tabeling Workshop."  I was hooked.  It was super fun, productive and exceptionally engaging (one if the city's favorite words.)  The workshop was organized and managed by thc city's Long Range Planning Manager, Jeff Churchill (Jeff is a Redmond High graduate, with lots of equity.)  

Mr. Churchill described the participants' Lego conclusions at a Council Study session, saying the Lego community chose "SE Redmond"  for the most job and housing growth as compared to Marymoor, the downtown, residential neighborhoods, and Willows.  However, Churchill noted SE Redmond and Marymoor had infrastructure challenges. 

Councilmember David Carson was "utterly baffled and confused by the first two slides" of the Lego workshop.  Said Carson, "if someone could actually explain it to me...." and "what do I take away from that."  Mr. Carson, a 13-year councilmember, probably knows the Development community better than any representative.  A Council conservative, David is connected to "One Redmond"...Redmond's Chamber of Commerce, "on steroids."

Council's focal points for growth were "Centers"  and "Centers & Corridors"  Mr. Carson preferred the "Center and Corridor" option.  "Centers & Corridors" is defined as:

  • highest concentration of jobs near light rail, frequent bus routes (compared to other options)
  • higher job growth in Overlake (compared to other options.)
  • greater risk of manufacturing displacement compared to "Centers" option.
  • low housing displacement / affordability, diversity of housing types (58,179 targeted housing units, second to Overlake)
  • need to study potential of new local center at "90th St. & Willows"
  • high jobs along Willows.
  • can accommodate 27,000 new jobs. 
The "Centers" focuses on Overlake for high job growth, then Marymoor and SE Redmond; studies for potential protection of industry and manufacturing are required.  "Centers" accommodate 30,100 new jobs and targets 53,697 housing units. Mr, Churchill advised development in Marymoor and SE Redmond area could be influenced by wastewater and sewer infrastructure challenges.

Last week the Planning Commission evaluated the 90th St.& Willows local center.  Commissioner Sherri Nichols worried about consequences to some of the long-time businesses like Eastside Gym. (I went there for years. Loni, the owner, is a super dude.)  The "district" is zoned for 2-4 stories.  According to Churchill, upzoning is likely so buildings could go even higher. 

And then there's "benefits."  After developers deliver "benefits" to the public like Open Space, water fountains, plazas, and mini dog-parks, they can qualify for Bonus stories to boost their building height.

According to the Story Map, the 90th St. & Willows local center has potential for households second only to Overlake.  I was surprised by the high stack of Legos there.  The corridor is a sleeper.   

-- Bob Yoder, photo Yoder, 8/2/2022

2 comments:

  1. I worry that putting to much density in the Willows corridor without major infrastructure improvements. If that corridor is to be high density light rail needs to be extended along Willis terminating at Kirkland Totem Lake. Arnold Tomac

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  2. I was thinking the exact same thing, Arnie. This "local center" is so far away from light rail a Lime scooter couldn't get you to a station. Bus transportation appears the planners' solution. That, and more housing units. It's surely something to ponder.

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