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Kirkland Park Place: Touchstone Redevelopment Strikes some Nerves

Kirklandparkplace_002 The people of Kirkland are all abuzz about the talk of re-developing Kirkland Park Place.   Our quaint little shopping center could use a boost for sure, but the source of contention seems to be that Douglas Howe of Touchstone Corporation is requesting a private amendment to (a) increase the building height restriction from 3-5 stories to 5-8 stories and (b) reduce building setbacks from 20 feet to zero feet along Central Way.  And, logically, there's some sort of fast-tracked timeline to have a decision made by the end of the year so they can seize the current commercial office space opportunity. 

Kirklandparkplace_001 The City of Kirkland has a nice memo on the subject dated May 7th  found here that gives you a good overview.  Here's some additional reading on the subject.  The plan proposes numerous buildings with ground floor retail and restaurant space and several floors of office space above.  There's also 2 hotels, a sport club, and some above ground residential units with subterranean parking under most of the site with limited surface parking.  It's not too clear if our movie theater would stay.   I'm not sure what happens to all of the retailers that are there today- could they afford to stay?  I'm curious why these proposed hotels would be permitted to go to higher heights when The Heathman also asked for an exception and was denied?

Marriotttotemlake I did have a chance to listen to Mr. Howe  (who also developed our new Marriott Courtyard in Totem Lake-pic right) speak at one of our neighborhood association meetings.  A sort of mad scientist guy with trendy dark rimmed glasses and waving arms-he's very enthusiastic about his many drawings and visions, but pretty glossy when it comes to the details.  He did stress the whole picture of 'inter-connectivity' with walking paths from KPP through the park and surrounding areas to encourage Kirkland to be more of a pedestrian downtown core. I liked that part.  And I also generally like the prospect of taking KPP to the next level- it's time.  But when I asked Mr. Howe if he had any plans to put together focus groups as he moves forward (b/c I'm interested in contributing).  He looked at me like I was an alien and I had to explain to him what a focus group was. 

Anyway- I still feel like there's a lot of homework that needs to be done- what about our Kirkland Teen Union Building and the Senior Center? What about traffic and parking?  What about the input of our citizens?  How does this all jive with our strategic plan?    Why is a developer telling us how quickly we need to move?  The City promises us they will have a webpage with updates on this subject soon.   Let's all stay tuned so this one doesn't hit the pedal without us.   Did anyone attend the city council meeting Tuesday night that can give us an update on what's happening? ~Janis


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Juanita neighbor

Why do you say "our quaint little shopping center could use a boost for sure?" It has everything we need including connectivity and paths to the park, etc. Why would we need a hotel above the movie theater or a pricy chain restaurant replacing Hallmark? Bellevue has all that. I understand that you are criticizing the process and questioning the plan, but I don't get why the shopping center supposedly needs a boost.

City Resident

I have far less concerns about this proposal than I have had about some other "downtown" projects. I use quotes because I don't consider Park Place truly downtown. It is on the fringe, and it isn't quaint or of distinctive character. The surrounding properties are mostly commercial, and the largest buildings would not be near the park, Teen Center or KPC. It's different from the Heathman site.

We need more stores that would serve us nearby residents, and Park Place is still within walking distance for many people. For a lot of others, it is a convenient stop on the drive home from work. The current QFC is much too small, so it can't carry the breadth of goods that a modern grocery store can. Park Place is nearby yet out of the way. It's close to I-405 as well, so shoppers driving from outside Kirkland can get there without clogging up downtown.

I attended one of Mr Howe's presentations, and he was anything but a "mad scientist" in my humble opinion. Picking apart the project is one thing, but to paint this picture of the man isn't fair. As for the hazy details, he's damned if he does and damned if he doesn't. That is, if he gets specific and then changes the plan later, he'd be criticized for that, too.

Why does the shopping center "need a boost?" Apparently because we shoppers get tired of old shopping centers like we get tired of old clothes. Look around at other centers. Bellevue Square (excuse me, I mean The Bellevue Colletcion) has been remade, and Totem Lake Mall is coming next. Today, Park Place is disco music, while most people prefer a more contemporary sound. This city depends on sales tax revenue, both from contruction projects and retal sales of the resulting stores, and Park Place will give us that, too, with minimal effect on traffic and residential areas.

I don't want a whole bunch of tall, ugly buildings, but I don't think it will end up that way after the citizens and city officials get done picking it apart, so let's keep talking and listening and see if we can get to a result that works.


Park Place needs updating because it's a great opportunity that is going unrealized. The QFC is tiny and inadequate. Not many people patronize the 2nd floor businesses. The flow of cars and pedestrians is a mess. There is no cohesion to the design and layout.

Yes, there are some good stores and I like having a movie theater, book store, and some decent restaurants. But the place could be so much more. A lot of what Kirk-landers want for their town could be achieved with a thoughtful and forward looking re-development of Parkplace. More parking, a better mix of retail stores (not more day spas, banks, chiropractors, hair salons and art galleries), and an area where the whole family can spend time, rain or shine.

I think that, if done right, it could be our version of Redmond Town Center or Crossraoads. A place to go not only for shopping but also to just hang out with the family with a little something for everyone.

scott ryan

i totally agree with u we need more stores for the comfort of the nearby residents

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