Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Kenmore by the Lake



The Logo

The city of Kenmore, Washington, cannot be faulted for its dreams. After its incorporation in 1998 it adapted the tagline “by the Lake” to let the public know that it resides close to the north end of Lake Washington. It might be considered a smart move, since without that notice, you may never know there was a lake there. But the city does have hopes for a future that will feature the lake. Planning began for a mixed use waterfront development back in 1989, long before Kenmore became a city. The development, called “Lakepointe,” was adopted into King County’s Northshore community Plan in 1993. After twenty-three years this dream of a 45 acre lakeside community with shoreline access is still just that – a dream.


The Big Pile of Dirt – 2006
For the moment it remains the domain of concrete and gravel trucks, dust, noise (sometimes at deafening levels) with intermittent bouts of hammering pile driving equipment spreading the joys of industrial zoning into neighboring residential and nature reserve areas, routinely beginning before 6:00 in the morning, waking even the soundest sleepers. To be fair, the loud hammering did stop a while back when the pile work was completed. But this was only to be replaced with the equally loud and early hammering of concrete residue from metal forms for use in the construction of the precast deck panels for the SR520 Bridge.

175th Street Just East of 68th Ave – 2006      (much improved in the last ten years)

The good news - in 2014 the city changed the zoning of the Lakepointe property to exclude industrial use. The bad news is that state law allows (demands) existing industrial use to continue as long as no expansion occurs and no new industrial uses are allowed. So it may be a long time before Kenmore is actually “by the Lake.” 

But Kenmore has patience as well as its dreams and has been outlasting detractors for a long time. An opponent of Kenmore Village once made the argument against redevelopment by saying, “If people wanted to live somewhere nice they would live in Kirkland.” The city did not listen to that argument and Kenmore Village is becoming a reality.
NE 175th Street Just East of 68th Ave - 2006

The 2011 environmental evaluation of the Lakepointe site for use as a bridge deck construction and staging area makes for interesting reading.  It points out some of the dangers of putting hopes for a mixed use neighborhood improvement within an existing industrial zoned area. Having walked the future Lakepointe area for seventeen of the twenty-three years since first proposed back in 1993, I am pretty familiar with its recent history. At the eastern edge of the property is a parcel that early on was the home of Custom Industries. Occupation of the building stopped years before the current owners purchased it in 2006, and it has been derelict ever since. The roof has now collapsed and blackberries have taken over.  The County Assessor's record shows some sort of contamination and still identifies Custom Industries on the Assessors record, but with Lakepointe Inc. as the taxpayer. The unkempt property is used as open storage for scaffolding and miscellaneous piles of construction equipment. In the 2011 environmental study it is pretty much ignored as a part of the Lakepointe property and the documented use was shown as light industrial manufacturing. Of note though is mention of a 2001 consent decree that bars anything other than industrial use, until clean up is performed. That report states that all of the property within the Lakepointe boundary is contaminated.

Here is some detail from the report:

Soil: Petroleum hydrocarbons (diesel and heavy oil) and metals (arsenic, lead, barium, and selenium) are present in the soil at low levels throughout the Pioneer Towing property.

Groundwater: Petroleum hydrocarbons (diesel and heavy oil) and metals (lead, barium, and arsenic) are also present in groundwater in the interior of the Pioneer Towing property; concentrations of these substances are currently below regulatory cleanup standards in groundwater at the Pioneer Towing property shoreline (Washington State Department of Ecology 2001a).

Looking For the Lake - 2016

Looking For the Lake - 2016


Lakepointe Development, Kenmore by the Lake - 2016

The County records have this building identified as a “sheltered workshop” and describe the quality as “low/average.” Possibly an optimistic assessment.

Sheltered Workshop at Lakepointe Development, Kenmore by the Lake - 2016

The current state of these, and neighboring properties, may not yet reflect the long term wishes of the City of Kenmore, but on occasion can provide some interesting photo images “by the lake.” But getting a photo of the lake itself can be a daunting task.

Missy on Location at Lakepointe


On Location, Missy Looking for the Pointe of the Lake - 2014

Missy Enjoying the Integrated Land Uses at Lakepointe - 2014


From the City of Kenmore Website:

"Lakepointe is intended to integrate different land uses and activities in a complementary manner to minimize the conflicts and integrate the usage among residents, shoppers, vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists. The mixed-use nature of this development will provide almost a mile of Lake Washington and Sammamish River channel shoreline access."


On Location, Missy Contemplating Integrated Mixed Use - Kenmore by the Lake    2016

Please don’t worry about Missy and the photography crew trespassing during her photo shoot. There are no fences, and as of June 27, 2016, there are no posted trespass warnings. Maybe there should be?

The Current Face of Mixed Use Zoning - Lakepointe - 2016


Kenmore by the Lake - View Towards the Lake     2016



 Pointing Generally Toward the Lake at Lakepointe - 2016



The Pedestrian and Bicycle Environment on 68th Ave NE - 2016


Is that a glimmer of lake surface back there? - 2016 


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