NE 85th Station Area Plan Envisions Innovative, Inclusive Transit-Connected Growth in Kirkland

Date Posted: 12.22.2021

On December 14th, the Kirkland City Council unanimously passed Resolution R-5503, adopting one of the scenarios developed over the last two years as the NE 85th Station Area Plan Preferred Plan Direction, to set the vision for this future transit-oriented community, as a mixed-use environment and a model of innovation. The Station Area Plan was directed by the City Council to leverage the planned WSDOT/Sound Transit Bus Rapid Transit station that will connect Kirkland regionally to light rail at Bellevue, Lynnwood and SeaTac with frequent bus service every 10-15 minutes. The project is a proactive planning process to shape future growth over the next 23 years.

Since 2019, Mithun and the City of Kirkland have been leading an equitable long-term planning process across city departments, with community and stakeholders, to envision the future of the neighborhoods surrounding the new Stride Bus Rapid Transit station at I-405 and NE 85th Street. Mithun has led a consultant team to develop and evaluate five distinct urban design and land use scenarios seeking to create the most value for the city of Kirkland and the best quality of life for Kirkland’s residents.

Reflecting on the years of work this expansive group of stakeholders dedicated to developing the preferred plan alternative, Kirkland Mayor Penny Sweet said, “I really feel we’ve been heard, and the community’s been heard as well.”

The adopted Preferred Plan Direction provides a framework for the maximum growth capacity and heights for allowed development of up 8,152 total households and up to 22,751 total jobs. The Mithun team will elaborate on this vision in 2022 with further development of the plan, community benefits strategies to address concerns and a form-based code. The form based code will support implementation of a walkable, transit-oriented community and lay out design strategies and zoning details. The plan and design framework envision the existing parking-dominated, disconnected corridor transformed into an environment that builds on its natural assets like Forbes Lake, community assets including the parks, schools, and the Cross Kirkland Corridor, while also enhancing quality of life and mobility choices, in an eco-friendly place for people to connect, that is rooted in the history of the land, the people and the culture of this special crossroads in Kirkland.

Mithun partner Erin Christensen Ishizaki said “As our region becomes connected by transit, it’s exciting to see Kirkland’s leadership and proactive focus on the benefits that can come along with growth. Creating a more walkable, people-focused and connected district is a smart way to grow – opening the door to new homes and jobs that complement the historic downtown and beloved community and natural assets, while pursuing ambitious climate action goals.”

Deputy Mayor Jay Arnold said “I was impressed…how [this team has] put us on track to meet the goal of leveraging this regional transit investment, maximizing transit-oriented development, the value for Kirkland, and community benefit.”

Councilmembers agreed that affordable housing, sustainability, parks and recreation, mobility and schools are among the top priorities they have heard from the community and directed the project team to further develop a community benefits policy and implementation framework.

The Preferred Plan Direction will be included in the project’s Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, anticipated to be published by the end of 2021; however, it does not yet establish or finalize zoning details, which will be developed together with community, staff, Commission and Council in 2022.

At the study session, Councilmember Kelli Curtis reaffirmed, “I know there is some trepidation with the unknowns, but I really feel we can continue to work together as a community to create an exciting, vibrant future for Kirkland that works now for Kirkland, and for our future.”

In addition to Mithun, the NE 85th Station Area planning team includes BERK Consulting, public engagement and environmental permitting; Herrera Environmental Consultants, utilities and infrastructure consulting; Fehr & Peers, transportation consulting; and ECONorthwest, economic analysis and development strategy.

Learn more about the NE 85th Station Area Plan.