Eastside 2025

Of course, nobody can predict the future. But development activities under way do provide some signals as to what the Eastside will look like in 2025 — and beyond.

Eastside residents, workers, and visitors are witnessing incredible area growth — more construction cranes dotting the downtown Bellevue skyline, more vehicle congestion along interstates 90 and 405 and state routes 520 and 522, and more housing developments in areas long considered rural — and wondering what our region will look like in the future.

Our individual cities have been thinking about this, too. To that end, we fanned out to many of those places to talk to civic leaders and strategic planners to gather a sense of what the area is expected to look like in 2025.

We found that most cities have similar concerns — transportation, housing, and growth management — and that there are projects under way that will dramatically impact the Eastside in 2025. For example, completion of the East Link light rail expansion project in 2023 will connect Seattle to Mercer Island, Bellevue, and Redmond in a way that many experts believe will bring more visitors to the Eastside. More than a half-billion dollars in bonds will be spent in Issaquah to educate students in new, expanded, and modernized schools in 2025 and beyond. A cycling and pedestrian trail expected to open in 2024 will run through the heart of Kirkland. And commuters traveling between Bothell and Renton will be able to speed past the rush-hour parking lot that is Interstate 405 and, by 2024, use bus rapid transit instead.

But it’s not enough to focus on future development. We asked local fourth-grade students to draw what they thought downtown Bellevue would look like in 2025 — the year they graduate high school.

Our hope is to give readers a better sense of what the future will look like in an increasingly popular — and populated — part of the region.

 
1

Kirkland

By Margo Greenman

Rendering of possible Totem Lake Park Bridge design. Courtesy City of Kirkland.

Major projects should help Kirkland continue to prosper following population surge

Like many Eastside cities, Kirkland is growing fast and showing no signs of slowing. Currently the sixth-largest city in King County, Kirkland has exploded from 48,499 people in 2009 to 87,281 in 2015. And City Manager Kurt Triplett said it’s possibly looking at an additional 10,000 to 15,000 new residents by 2025.
To accommodate this growth, the city, county, and developers are working to ensure Kirkland has the infrastructure to support a growing number of residents into 2025 and beyond.

Kirkland has two major projects in the pipeline that will help support this growth: The Village at Totem Lake,
a mixed-use urban center with housing, retail shopping, restaurants, and more, and Kirkland Urban, which will feature office, residential, retail, and multifamily space, as well as open plazas.

“The good thing is that the growth is happening where we want it to and where we planned for it to happen,” said Triplett. “And that’s a great thing, but keeping up with that growth is going to be a challenge to the city.”

Triplett expects transportation to be the biggest challenge facing the entire Eastside, including Kirkland, by 2025.

Kirkland, for its part, is working to expand the Cross-Kirkland Corridor Trail, expected for completion by 2024, to help ease congestion. The Cross-Kirkland Corridor expansion will provide commuters with alternatives for getting around the city. Add self-driving cars to the mix, and, Triplett said, he expects traffic to improve. But not entirely.

“I think the combination of autonomous vehicles and rideshare programs will really help,” said Triplett. “But I think in the end, we’re always going to be in a somewhat congested region for the foreseeable future.”

Rendering of Kirkland Urban. Courtesy Collins Woerman.

With a growing population and limited space left for sprawl, another challenge will be education.

“We’re trying to work creatively with (Lake Washington School District) because they’re going to have a huge capacity problem, and just levies alone aren’t going to be the answer,” he said. By 2025, Triplett expects to see taller school buildings, with some schools even operating out of downtown offices. “People come here for the school district,” he said. “It’s one of the best in the state. We want to make sure we help sustain that.”

Besides infrastructure, another way Kirkland plans on supporting more residents is by continuing the quality of life it’s known for. “By 2025, we’re doubling down our investments in our parks and creating more choices for active recreation,” said Triplett. “We have a goal of a park within a quarter-mile of every citizen in Kirkland.”

There also will be more options for entertainment, shopping, and restaurants, and Triplett said two hotels already have submitted pre-applications to build facilities in Kirkland.

“We have never had this much growth this fast,” Triplett said. “We have 3,600 housing units in the pipeline in the next three to five years. That’s almost 46 percent of our 20-year plan.”

With partners like neighboring Bellevue and Redmond, Triplett said, he’s not concerned about absorbing the growing population. The biggest challenge is doing so gracefully.

“It’s just going so much faster than we expected, and we’re just sort of riding the wave,” he said. “It’s a wonderful problem to have, but how you grow gracefully is the challenge.”

 
2

Bellevue

By Todd Matthews

Downtown’s towering glass-and-steel skyscrapers already give Bellevue a futuristic feel. But light rail and the Spring District could make this Eastside hub a true 22nd-Century city.

Bellevue as entering from I-90. Courtesy City of Bellevue.

Bellevue as entering from I-90. Courtesy City of Bellevue.

Peeking between the forested slope of south Medina and the northern reach of Moorland, and framed against the snow-glazed and serrated tips of the Cascade Mountains, the downtown Bellevue skyline is a mash-up of natural and man-made environments. On a clear day, its towering, tinted-glass-and-sleek-steel high-rises can reflect the setting sun like a klieg light and, at night, cover the surface of Meydenbauer Bay in a flickering sheen.

Downtown Bellevue already feels like a city from the future. But a handful of projects currently in the development pipeline are poised to change nearly everything about Bellevue, from its physical appearance to its population demographics to its employment sectors.

The biggest of those projects is Sound Transit’s $3.7 billion East Link light rail extension. By 2023, 10 stations located along a 14-mile light rail line will carry passengers between Seattle; across Interstate 90 to Mercer Island; then northeast toward downtown Bellevue, the Bel-Red Corridor, and Overlake Village and the Redmond Technology Center. Passengers will be able to board a train in South Bellevue and step off at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in 50 minutes, and board a train at the Bellevue Transit Center and disembark in Redmond in 10 minutes.

“I think light rail already is a game-changer,” said Bellevue Mayor John Stokes. “We’ve already seen quite a bit of interest by developers for transit-oriented development. I think that connectivity is going to make a big difference.”

One example of this transit-oriented development is the Spring District, a 36-acre, $2.3 billion mixed-use urban center under construction in a former warehouse district in the Bel-Red Corridor just east of downtown Bellevue. In November, developers broke ground on the project’s second phase of residential development, which is expected to be completed in November 2018, and includes a three-building, 279-unit apartment complex with 3,700 square feet of ground-floor commercial space. Construction of the project’s first phase, the five-building, 309-unit apartment complex known as the Sparc, began last summer and is expected to open in June. A branch of the Bright Horizons Child Care Center will occupy the 15,000-square-foot ground-floor commercial space. Construction is expected to begin on a third and final phase later this year. It will include approximately 200 units of multifamily housing on roughly 1.5 acres and be completed in early 2019. The Spring District, which is being developed by a team led by Seattle-based Wright Runstad & Company and includes San Francisco-based Shorenstein Properties and Seattle-based Security Properties, also will include two office towers featuring everything from a brew pub and retail shops, to parks and open space. The East Link light rail extension project also includes a station there.

Rendering of office building in The Spring District. Courtesy The Spring District.

Rendering of office building in The Spring District. Courtesy The Spring District.

“It’s going to be a major new city itself, in a way,” said Stokes.

Developers already have netted several big wins for the Spring District neighborhood.

In March, REI announced it would move its corporate headquarters from Kent to an 8-acre campus in the Spring District that will open to its 1,200 employees by 2020. In September, construction began on a three-story, 86,000-square-foot building in the Spring District that will house the Global Innovation Exchange (GIX), a graduate school focused on technology and innovation. The institution received a $40 million investment from Microsoft, is a partnership between the University of Washington and Tsinghua University in Beijing, and is expected to open to students this fall (approximately 3,000 students are expected to be enrolled at GIX by 2025).

Another factor that will shape Bellevue in 2025 is the residential growth of downtown. In the year 2000, the estimated population downtown was 2,000. Today, more than 7,500 units house an estimated 14,000 residents. As of late last year, at least 15 projects offering more than 2,400 residential units were either under construction or in permitting and review stages.

“When I started working here in 2000, it really was kind of an 8-to-5 downtown,” said City of Bellevue strategic planning manager Emil King. “The level of pedestrian activity just on a daily basis and into the evenings has increased significantly. If you continue with the new apartments and condos to be developed, there’s just going to be more activity focused in our three-quarter-of-a-mile downtown area.”

BellevueByTheNumbersOutside downtown, Bellevue College will break ground this year on a 137-unit building that will house 350 students when it opens in fall 2018. It will be the first time the college has offered on-campus student housing. And homelessness and affordable housing will continue to impact Bellevue in 2025. For nearly a decade, the city has hosted a temporary, cold-weather shelter for homeless adult men (private nonprofit organization such as The Sophia Way and Friends of Youth have opened their doors to women and children). According to city officials, between 2015 and 2016, more than 1,200 homeless men, women, and children on the Eastside received services, and the total number of homeless people tallied during an annual count rose from 134 in 2015 to 245 in 2016. To that end, the City of Bellevue is considering — and facing much opposition to — the placement of a permanent homeless shelter near the Eastgate neighborhood.

“It’s a complicated thing. It’s a real problem. It’s a challenge,” said Stokes, who anticipates more city resources will be directed toward efforts to reduce homelessness as Bellevue grows. For now, the situation is not a crisis for Bellevue like it is for Seattle. In 2016, the annual count of homeless people living on Seattle’s streets totaled 2,942.

“Is it going to become like Seattle? We think we can do it better,” said Stokes. “We’ve learned from them and others, and we just don’t have the magnitude of the problem. But it is something we have been working on.”

Looking ahead to 2025, Stokes envisions Bellevue will continue to fortify its prominence on this side of Lake Washington. “The other important thing is that Bellevue will be the actual cultural and financial center for the whole Eastside,” he said. “There will be a lot more regional collaboration, and we are talking about ways the cities can work together on issues. It’s not a competition to see how big we can be or how much we can control. But it’s a competition for us in a friendly way to be the best we can be in that sense. It sounds corny, but that’s really what we are trying to do. I think Bellevue (in 2025) will be a very vibrant international city.”

 
3

Q&A With Experts from Bellevue City Hall

By Todd Matthews
East Link Main Station. Rendering courtesy Sound Transit.

East Link Main Station. Rendering courtesy Sound Transit.

If you want to know how the city is expected to grow and change, it makes sense to speak with the people who closely follow these trends. Enter city strategic planning manager Emil King and city demographer Gwen Rousseau. 425 Business magazine met the pair in a conference room at Bellevue City Hall to discuss what they think Bellevue will look like in 2025.

Which developments under way will most shape what Bellevue looks like in 2025?

EmilKingEMIL KING: Looking out to 2025, we’re really excited about the continued infill of our downtown. That is going to be our major growth area in the next 20 years. It’s exciting to see all the residential development happening. If you look around the downtown skyline, you know that most of the cranes are building residential buildings. More developers want to build condos downtown. Also, seeing the light rail construction already happening, getting ready even in 2017 to start the tunneling of it, that’s an exciting thing. Both having the downtown station just right outside of City Hall, as well as having a station at East Main just on the edge of downtown, are pretty cool.

GwenRosseauGWEN ROUSSEAU: I think it’s light rail because that’s a permanent transportation infrastructure that’s not moving. There is certainty to developers that this is where density is going to happen, this is where growth is going to happen. And it connects Microsoft to downtown Bellevue to Seattle, so there is great desire to be along that line.

As far as employment goes in 2025, is it going to continue to be tech-sector-heavy?

ROUSSEAU: The tech sector is going to continue to grow, mainly because Bellevue is attractive in terms of being a safe community that has excellent schools. Often, you will find tech-sector folks value education. They want their kids to go somewhere that has good schools. We have the talent; we have a very educated population with those skills. Companies want to locate here because they can get the people they need to fill their positions. But tourism is the second-fastest-growing industry, and we are hoping to see that really kind of come into its own more.

KING: For growth, it really is the technology sector. When Microsoft significantly expanded its footprint into Bellevue, that was a big deal. Also, 15 years ago, we didn’t have nearly the density of gaming companies that we have downtown or in other parts of Bellevue.

Are there aspects of Bellevue’s demographics that would surprise people in terms of what they think Bellevue is demographically, and what the data actually show?

ROUSSEAU: I think what people are hearing more about is that Bellevue is culturally diverse. It’s more culturally diverse than Seattle. There’s over 50 percent minorities here versus less than 50 percent in Seattle. It is mostly Asian, so it doesn’t have the diversity in terms of other ethnic groups. But the trend has been so dramatic and has just increased so much in terms of diversity. In 2015, there were 100 different languages spoken in Bellevue schools. Also, today there are about 1,000 children living in downtown Bellevue. They’re not all babies. There are families that will move to downtown because they want their kids to go to downtown schools, and they don’t have a problem living in a high-rise.

 
4

Kids Imagine Downtown Bellevue

We asked fourth-grade students at Open Window School in Bellevue to pick up their colored pencils and draw what they thought downtown Bellevue would look like in 2025 — the year they graduate high school. The results were a lot of fun. Solar-powered streets? Visitors carrying iPhone 16s? Segways and hoverboards as major modes of transportation? One thing is certain — the future will be populated with creative minds. — Lauren Foster & Todd Matthews

Allison G. Bellevue will be a green city. The sidewalks are water-absorbent, and so is the road. The light rail can carry more people at a time, so there is not as much smoke. The green roof will suck up water to reuse, and solar panels will give energy to the energy-saving lights.

Allison G.
Bellevue will be a green city. The sidewalks are water-absorbent, and so is the road. The light rail can carry more people at a time, so there is not as much smoke. The green roof will suck up water to reuse, and solar panels will give energy to the energy-saving lights.

 

Charlotte P.  I think that Mount Rainier will erupt. I also think that architecture will include many different colors and shapes. I think Bellevue will run on solar power, but not just the buildings — the streets, too.

Charlotte P.
I think that Mount Rainier will erupt. I also think that architecture will include many different colors and shapes. I think Bellevue will run on solar power, but not just the buildings — the streets, too.

 

Miles L.  The skyscrapers and the train station with the light rail in my picture represent how the city will have grown. Also, there is an apartment building with a drone carrying an Amazon package to the door to represent how much technology will have grown.

Miles L.
The skyscrapers and the train station with the light rail in my picture represent how the city will have grown. Also, there is an apartment building with a drone carrying an Amazon package to the door to represent how much technology will have grown.

 

Nathan Y. I believe that there will be different ways to be transported. For example, you can get places by Segway and hoverboards. Virtual-reality companies will be made into stores, the light rail will be constructed from Seattle to Bellevue, the new iPhone 16 will be designed and invented, Pokémon Go will have new updates everybody wants to play, Bellevue Park will be remodeled, many new stores will open, and the demographics will be much younger because more people will come to Bellevue to make money. Also, Bellevue will be more diverse because the city will have many more buildings and jobs for people from all different countries.

Nathan Y.
I believe that there will be different ways to be transported. For example, you can get places by Segway and hoverboards. Virtual-reality companies will be made into stores, the light rail will be constructed from Seattle to Bellevue, the new iPhone 16 will be designed and invented, Pokémon Go will have new updates everybody wants to play, Bellevue Park will be remodeled, many new stores will open, and the demographics will be much younger because more people will come to Bellevue to make money. Also, Bellevue will be more diverse because the city will have many more buildings and jobs for people from all different countries.

 
5

Renton

By Karen Miller

Home to Boeing and the Seahawks, and rooted in blue-collar history, the city will see a shift toward high-tech with the opening of the Southport Office Campus in 2019.

In 2025, new development will have taken root across the city of Renton, including a new office campus that’s high-tech-ready and situated on the southern shores of Lake Washington.

In fact, Michael Christ, a developer with SECO Development, said he believes Renton could be the cornerstone of the area’s answer to California’s Silicon Valley.
And Renton will boom as part of that transition, he said, because there’s a demand for space.

“Downtown Bellevue is about 440 acres; downtown Renton is double that,” Christ said. “And if you stand back and look at Google Maps, we are that wedge between 405 — which I would describe as one of the most critical high-tech corridors — and I-5. We’re that triangle right in between.”

Southport Campus rendering courtesy Southport Office Campus

Southport Campus rendering courtesy Southport Office Campus

Overall, City Hall is fairly business-friendly. It has no local business and occupation tax, making it a low-cost place to do business. The city also boasts a streamlined permitting process, low fees, and low mitigation.

“Renton really prides itself on our development process,” said Cliff Long, the city’s economic development director. “We try to be business-friendly in everything that we do, and it really translates down into the ability for a new company to make investments here and actually get a project done.”

SECO Development is working on the $350 million Southport Office Campus on Lake Washington Boulevard. The 17-acre development, with three nine-story buildings, is expected to open in 2019. Near Southport is the new Hyatt Regency, also built by SECO. That opening is imminent. One of the reasons SECO invested so much in the 377,000-square-foot hotel is because it sees big changes coming to Renton, Christ said.

As SECO develops Southport, the city is helping to accommodate the structure.

“I would consider the City of Renton is kind of a partner toward the redefinition of what used to be a very powerful blue-collar area of Seattle and moving it toward a high-tech environment,” said Christ. “And some of the steps that they’ve taken coincide with our efforts here. They’ve added a significant rapid transit center right in front of our facility within their six-year (Transportation Improvement Plan).”

But Southport isn’t the only game in town: Renton is also growing with a new GroupHealth campus. More buildings are being added. The new campus bolsters Renton’s status as a healthcare hub, said Long.

“We have a sizeable healthcare employment base,” he said.

And, to answer the most important question: What about all the traffic these new developments will add? Well, some relief is in sight: WSDOT will be widening I-405 — with the additional of tolls, however. The Renton to Bellevue Widening and Express Toll Lanes project is expected to start work in 2019.

Once completed, the lanes will connect the express toll system between Bellevue and Lynnwood, as well as the SR 167 HOT lanes.

A 405 under construction doesn’t sound like a barrel of laughs, but hopefully it will ease congestion.

 
6

North Bend

By Margo Greenman

Doubling of population could mean new feel for laid-back North Bend

Made internationally famous by the television series Twin Peaks, North Bend is well-known for its woodsy, laid-back charm. People choose to live in the city for its quiet pace and easy accessibility to major cities and the great outdoors. Over the years, North Bend’s growth has been slow but steady. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t any business being done there. Like its Eastside neighbors, the city expects to look a little different by 2025.

Mike McCarty, senior planner for the city of roughly 7,000, said North Bend has plans to add about 800 residential units within the next five years, and there also are several proposed developments for the area currently under review. These developments include a youth center, hotel, storage facility, several housing developments, and a possible civic center, to name a few.

In addition to housing and infrastructure, the city also is investing in its parks and making improvements to its green spaces.

With its population expected to reach more than 14,000 by 2035, the city is focusing on creating housing and additional jobs that can sustain the projected growth, taking special care to maintain North Bend’s charm.

 
7

Snoqualmie

By Margo Greenman
Snoqualmie Riverwalk development. Rendering courtesy City of Snoqualmie.

Snoqualmie Riverwalk development. Rendering courtesy City of Snoqualmie.

The city is looking to grow but isn’t interested in too much sprawl

Snoqualmie might be best known for tourist attractions like Snoqualmie Falls and the Northwest Railroad Museum, but tourism accounts for only one-third of this burgeoning city’s revenue. Since 2000, Snoqualmie’s population has risen from 1,838 to more than 12,000, and city planners expect that number to continue growing well into 2025 and beyond.

Mark Hofman, community development director for the city, said the Snoqualmie Ridge development, which is nearing completion and will add Safeway, Bartell Drugs, and a pizza parlor, is the first of many developments that will support growth.

By 2025, Hofman said, Snoqualmie will see the Mill Pond development and Salish Expansion; a revamped and expanded high school; improvements at the Interstate 90 interchange; and completion of the first phases in the eight-phase Snoqualmie Riverwalk development, which will provide a walkable connection from Snoqualmie Falls to downtown.

With expected population growth and new developments providing additional office space in the area, Hofman said, the city hopes to attract more technology jobs, but Snoqualmie isn’t looking to sprawl too much. “A third of the population is under 18,” said Hofman. “We don’t want all of those families to have to commute, but we can’t have all of them work here, either.”

Moving forward, balance will be key for the city’s growth. By bringing new jobs to the area, improving the I-90 interchange, and investing in recreation and quality of life, the Snoqualmie of the future will be a more vibrant, robust version of what it is today.

 
8

Issaquah

By Joanna Kresge

Small-town roots, sustainable future for pretty Issaquah

Known as a hub for salmon enthusiasts and nestled between the Cascade mountains and Lake Sammamish, Issaquah thrives while maintaining the small-town roots of its early days and providing sustainable solutions for the future.

The 12.49-square-mile city is home to 34,590 people, and officials expect to add close to 4,000 housing units and more than 17,000 jobs by 2031. There is no doubt that a few of those jobs will be provided by local Fortune 500 company Costco, which entered into a 30-year agreement with Issaquah in 2014 to grow the company’s Issaquah headquarters — currently residing on 700,000 square feet located in the mixed-use Pickering Place development — up to 1.5 million square feet.

The city’s population and employment boom will no doubt create more traffic headaches. Unfortunately, there might be little mitigation as Sound Transit’s light rail system will not make it to Issaquah until 2041. Meantime, the city is working to bring more bus service and park-and-ride lots to the community. Additionally, Issaquah is working with the State Department of Transportation to de-clog the State Route 18/Interstate 90 interchange. The city also hopes to alleviate some congestion on East Lake Sammamish Parkway.

While all this expansion will greatly increase the commercial footprint of the city, Issaquah still is committed to maintaining its forested areas and encouraging youth to play outdoors by improving and upgrading current outdoor spaces like Confluence Park. Additionally, the city is endeavoring to build new recreation facilities, including a 10,500-square-foot skate park at Tibbetts Valley Park.

Speaking of Issaquah’s youth, future generations will benefit from the $533.5 million, 20-year school district bond, which passed in April. The funds will go toward acquiring property for new schools, expanding and modernizing six existing elementary schools, and the creation of a new middle school.

 
9

Redmond

By Joanna Kresge

More people and jobs are expected in Redmond’s future

Home to tech titans Microsoft and Nintendo of America, this city of 60,560 is expecting more tremendous growth over the next several years.

Overlake Village rendering courtesy City of Redmond.

Overlake Village rendering courtesy City of Redmond.

With the implementation of a comprehensive plan adopted by its city council in 2011, Redmond is forecasting the population will reach 78,000 people and the city will be home to 119,000 jobs — up some 34,000 from today — by 2030. The city estimates most of this growth will occur in its urban centers in downtown and in the Overlake area. To facilitate this growth, the city is planning a major overhaul of the retail-heavy Overlake Village.

“Looking toward the future, the city’s plans kind of call for more action with an urban mixed-use neighborhood with more of a more-distinct sense of place that is more attractive for living and working, kind of a place for people,” said Redmond senior planner Andrew Bauer.

Redmond also plans to maximize its potential annexation of unincorporated areas. The city hopes to weave annexed areas into existing neighborhoods, providing residents in those areas with access to city resources by 2030.

Moreover, the city is hoping the 2023 arrival of East Link light rail stations at Overlake Village and a redesigned transit center at Northeast 40th Street will encourage growth around those hubs.

“Both of those stations could catalyze development in the area,” said strategic transportation advisor Jeff Churchill. “That can attract (businesses) to do development that is transit-oriented.”

In addition to those transit options, future Redmond residents will have plenty of other options to get around town, for travel or recreation. Cyclists and pedestrians can use the soon-to-be-completed phase II of the Redmond Central Connector Trail. This 1.3-mile segment — projected to be completed this year — will join the 1-mile segment from the Bear Creek Trail to the Sammamish River Trail, which was completed in 2013. A third 1.6-mile section has been planned but has yet to be funded.

Redmond's East Link light rail station rendering courtesy City of Redmond.

Redmond’s East Link light rail station rendering courtesy City of Redmond.

The new section will add to Redmond’s more than 40 miles of trails and more than 1,300 acres of pre-existing park and trail space, bolstering its already lush, green landscape. The extension also will allow for more city-planned events, like the proposed Cycle-In Cinema, which would allow bicycle-riding moviegoers to enjoy a themed movie while surrounded by nature.

Improvements aren’t just for bipeds and two-wheeled vehicles, either. The city also has set its sights on improving the street grid, creating a more cohesive traffic flow. By the end of this year, the city plans to make changes to current one-way roads like Cleveland Street and Redmond Way to ensure a flow of traffic in both directions.

Churchill said street grid improvements likely still will be underway long after 2025.

“We know that it will probably take longer than 2025 to build out the street grid — in Overlake in particular because that area was developed in the mid-20th century; it’s got big blocks,” Churchill said.

 
10

Sammamish

By Joanna Kresge
The Village at Sammamish rendering courtesy TRF Development

The Village at Sammamish rendering courtesy TRF Development

New Town Center and road improvements will be highlights in Sammamish

There’s more to Sammamish than just the claim that Clint Eastwood once taught lifeguarding lessons at the city’s Beaver Lake. The earthy ambience and proximity to Microsoft alone make this plateau city a highly desirable place to live.

Located between Lake Sammamish and Snoqualmie Valley, this once-sleepy city is quickly expanding both organically and through annexation. Current estimates put Sammamish’s population at more than 52,200, up more than 6,400 in the past five years.

Due to this increase, residents are feeling tremendous growing pains along one of the few routes off the plateau, the busy two-lane Issaquah-Fall City Road. Luckily, future residents will benefit from the city’s efforts to expand this thoroughfare into a five-lane road. Additionally, the upgrade — work is projected to begin in summer 2018 — also will provide bike lanes and sidewalks for pedestrians and two-wheeled commuters along the corridor.

The Issaquah-Fall City Road isn’t the only Sammamish road to have a scheduled upgrade. Residents can expect an overhaul to Southeast Fourth Street between 218th Avenue Southeast and 228th Avenue Southeast, too. These upgrades also will involve adding lanes and installing bike lanes, sidewalks, and planter strips.

Additionally, that section of Southeast Fourth Street will be home to the soon-to-be-completed Town Center. The 240-acre development at the heart of Sammamish will include up to 2,000 residential units, and more than 600,000 square feet of new retail and office space.

Future Sammamish residents will be able to enjoy a bite at The Village at Sammamish Town Center’s new shops or grab some groceries at Metropolitan Market’s newest location.

 
11

Mercer Island

By Karen Miller

The city will be well-connected, But Mercer Island should chiefly remain the same

Mercer Island is uniquely positioned — between the east side and the west side of Lake Washington. Connected to both areas by Interstate 90, the city of 24,000 is expected to continue to modestly grow, but mainly in its center, thanks to high-density, mixed-use construction.

What will Mercer Island be like in 2025?

“Well-connected, but largely as it is today,” said Mayor Bruce Bassett.

Part of this is because Mercer Island doesn’t have a wealth of space in which to grow. Unlike other cities, its water-locked position makes growth impossible.
“We’re quite different from cities that still have large swaths of open land where there’s development going on. We simply don’t have that. Or cities who are growing through annexation … of surrounding nonmunicipal areas,” said Bassett.

East Link light rail extension station at Mercer Island. Rendering courtesy Sound Transit.

East Link light rail extension station at Mercer Island. Rendering courtesy Sound Transit.

The way Mercer Island will grow is through density. Recently, the city underwent a public process to update its plan for the Town Center area. The city expects growth to be contained in the area via mixed-use buildings.

“There’s plenty of capacity in the Town Center area; conversely, the rest of the island is, essentially, built out,” said Ross Freeman, sustainability and communications manager for the city.

As far as other residential development, it’s a “give one, get one” situation, said Bassett. What’s mainly being done is remodeling and redevelopment of existing structures.

Still, big changes are coming to the island via Sound Transit’s East Link light rail extension, expected to open in 2023. The new link means Mercer Island will be only a 20-minute ride from the University of Washington and a 10-minute ride from downtown Bellevue. “That actually is our biggest change,” said Bassett. “We see that as the major event of the next 10 years.”

The station will be within walking distance from the Town Center area, but the real question is ease of access for the rest of the community. The city is working with Sound Transit for parking solutions near the stop.

Other changes could be coming to the island, including more of a focus on clean energy.

Expect the city to go greener, too. Freeman said the city wants to extend green building incentives to the residential realm. The city already requires LEED Gold Standard buildings in Town Center as part of the center’s recent planning proposal.

 
12

Bothell

By Natalie DeFord

Recovering from a devastating downtown fire, Bothell tackles growth and works to preserve character

Multiway Boulevard rendering courtesy City of Bothell.

Multiway Boulevard rendering courtesy City of Bothell.

Bothell, a unique city that lies in both King and Snohomish counties, prides itself on its history, character, and old-town charm. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t being affected by the record growth of the Eastside. As Bothell’s population grows, traffic, parking, and city livability will be big concerns.

“We’re having to deal with that same growth while at the same time trying to preserve some of that character,” said Peter Troedsson, Bothell’s assistant city manager.

One major change to come before the year 2025 is the implementation of the city’s Downtown Revitalization Plan, a project that will expand Main Street and reroute several major roadways. The execution of this plan was made more urgent last July, when a devastating, unknown-origin fire destroyed 15 downtown businesses, including a mixed-use building called The Mercantile that was in the middle of construction. The fire prompted the need for a reworked timeline for Bothell’s Downtown Revitalization Plan, which already had existed for several years. Now, with more grant money secured, the implementation of this plan is underway.

One of the plan’s major projects is the Main Street Enhancement Project, which will extend and enhance Main Street to create an east-west connection and the completion of the city’s street/block grid. Work on the project is set to begin this spring. The project also calls for a connection of the historic portion of Main Street to its newer areas, bringing the Bothell Regional Library into the downtown core, and adding features such as gathering areas and public spaces, wider sidewalks, additional parking, traffic-calming measures, and flexible-use zones. A new city block will be created, and the way traffic is routed through downtown will dramatically change.

Another of Bothell’s downtown projects includes the addition of two hotels to the City Hall block, which will supplement accommodation options for visitors to central Bothell. Construction on these will kick off this spring or early summer.

Other new developments include mixed-use buildings, such as The Junction, which will bring more than 14,000 square feet of office space and 10,000 square feet of retail space to downtown.

Another aspect of the Downtown Revitalization Plan is the in-progress Multiway Boulevard project, which will transform Bothell Way Northeast, the road that connects Interstate 405 in the north to State Route 522 in the southern end of the city. Once the project is completed later this year, the road will separate through-traffic lanes from local-access lanes with medians. It also will create safer paths for pedestrians, more street parking, and multimodal transportation options.

That’s not all being done to address traffic and transportation in Bothell. The city also will be working with Sound Transit on a new package that will bring bus rapid transit to the city as well as a transit center and a park-and-ride station. It will mitigate traffic downtown, as well as along I-405 and on SR-522. This project is expected to be completed by 2024.

“We’re working to improve our ability to move our folks around and to better serve the residents downtown as well as throughout the city of Bothell,” said Bothell Public Works Director Erin Leonhart.

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