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Commission OKs Bothell downtown-development guidelines
With what were described as only a few minor last-minute changes, the Bothell Planning Commission Oct. 8 approved development guidelines that could be used for a long-planned major revamping of the city’s downtown.
The issue now goes before City Council, which may first take up the matter at a special Oct. 28 meeting.
Mayor Mark Lamb said the goal always has been to create a dynamic downtown, but one in keeping with the wishes and sensibilities of Bothell residents.
“I think we have a clear vision,” he added.
There are several key components to the plan, according to city Senior Planner Dave Boyd, all of which have gotten plenty of attention since discussions on the issue started in roughly 2006.
One key to the plan is probably the city’s designs for 18 acres along Bothell Way Northeast north of Main Street, land Bothell hopes to purchase from the Northshore School District. Boyd said the city has a memorandum of understanding with the schools to purchase the property, but the two sides still are in negotiation over price.
At this point, planners are looking at a mixed use development for the acreage involving residential, retail and office space. Boyd said maximum building heights could reach up to six stories. At the street level, designs indicate the 18 acres could be divided into nine blocks.
“I think we’re going to try and create a balanced package,” Lamb said of the city’s plan for the school property.
City Public Information Officer Joyce Goedeke said part of the overall scheme for the school land is incorporating Pop Keeney Field into the downtown mix. In the past, city officials have said Keeney and other surrounding recreational fields are not part of the property Bothell wants to purchase from the school district.
A second major issue is where to locate a new city hall or municipal complex. The city hopes to consolidate its various buildings and operations. Boyd said there are three possible locations on the table, including expansion of the current City Hall location on 101st Avenue Northeast.
In July, City Manager Bob Stowe recommended a location near the Park at Bothell Landing. That suggestion came under immediate fire from some residents concerned over how a complex there might affect the nearby park, which is home to the Lytle House and Bothell’s first school, both of which are registered landmarks.
City Council was scheduled to take further public comment on the municipal-complex issue at its regular Oct. 21 meeting. That session occurred after the Reporter’s deadline.
The third location under consideration is the site of the Anderson Building, located on Northshore School District property on Bothell Way.
Yet another major piece of the downtown puzzle involves what Boyd called the realignment of State Route 522, moving the roadway to the south, eliminating what he called the “awkward” intersection of 522 and Main Street. He said the changes, as proposed, will create a new “T”-shaped intersection designed to allow development opportunities on three different streets.
The city also wants to clean up and redevelop the Bothell Landing retail strip at the intersection of 522 and Northeast 180th Street. A public hearing on that proposal is set for 6 p.m. Oct. 30 at the Northshore Senior Center, 10201 E. Riverside Drive.
Finally, still on the table is the transformation of a portion of Bothell Way, or State Route 527, into a pedestrian-friendly boulevard.
Boyd noted many cities surrounding Bothell have similar development projects under consideration. But he also added many of those cities are trying to develop brand-new downtown areas virtually from scratch. Bothell has a leg up, he said, as it already has a distinct downtown that planners simply want to enhance and expand.
“There’s a buzz about Bothell,” Goedeke claimed. “We want to build on the community we already have.”
City Council gave a preliminary OK to the overall direction of the downtown plan in March of last year. Lamb promised plenty of chances for the public to comment on the various issues involved. He also talked about council reviewing the plan “page by page.” Boyd expects council to wrap up its deliberations by early 2009, with construction of the various components getting underway in 2010 at the earliest.