Washington Governor Jay Inslee acknowledged three Eastside cities this week for their efforts to develop projects and programs that aim to promote smart growth management planning.

Photo courtesy City of Kirkland

The recognition is part of the 12th Annual Smart Communities Awards and aims to commend achievements by local leaders who promote thriving communities, prosperous economies, and sustainable infrastructures.

The City of Kirkland and the developer Natural & Built Environments received the Smart Project Award for their collaborative development of Areté, a contemporary, mixed-use development. The LEED Platinum certified building is located downtown and includes 228 single-room occupancy apartment homes, street-level retail and restaurant spaces, and art-filled community meeting rooms.

“We are thrilled to receive this award from Governor Inslee,” said Kirkland Mayor, Amy Walen. “The project is a fine example of how a private-public partnership can come together to build an affordable housing alternative. These residents are enjoying the kind of community that we envisioned in our Comprehensive Plan process. They have the opportunity to walk, bike, or use transit to meet all their daily needs.”

“It was great to work with the City on this new vision of sustainable, affordable living,” said developer Robert Pantley. “Together we built a community that works on many levels to create a space that provides access to art, events and green living. Areté reflects the City’s values and the attitudes of Kirkland residents.”

The City of Renton received a special merit award for its Galvanizing Art Project (GAP) program, which encourages local artists to create public art that turns empty spaces into community focal points.

Two other Eastside cities received honorable mentions — the City of Issaquah for a development agreement to build Costco’s corporate campus, and the City of Renton for a loan program geared toward rehabilitating downtown commercial building facades.

“These projects help create and sustain thriving communities,” said Governor Inslee. “They facilitate the growth of local economies by creating ‘quality of place’ that can help retain and attract business and broaden the economic growth around the state.”