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Construction projects help pave the way for Redmond’s future
With a number of construction projects underway — both public and private — residents, workers and visitors in downtown Redmond can start to see the city’s plan to turn the neighborhood into an urban center take shape.
Phase 1 of construction on the Redmond Central Connector (RCC) is scheduled to be complete and open sometime this fall.
Jill Smith, a business liaison for the City of Redmond, said when this portion of the trail, which creates connections with the Bear Creek Trail and Sammamish River Trail, is complete there will be a community celebration, adding that the event will probably be late fall or early December.
ADDRESSING PARKING ISSUES
When the RCC opens, Smith said a new parking lot will also be opening, located at Leary Way Northeast and Bear Creek Parkway. She said the 92-space lot will be a paid lot with hourly and all-day rates for short-term or daily parking. The lot is not intended for long-term parking, Smith said.
Bob Sailer, an attorney at Pacific NorthWest Law Group (PNWLG) at 16141 Cleveland St., Suite C, said the current lack of available parking in downtown is an issue for them and their clients, especially now as many construction and city vehicles are taking what spots are open.
“It’s been a negative impact on our business, for sure,” he said.
Sailer said part of the problem is the lack of information from the city, so they don’t always know what is going to happen or when. As a result, they are often scrambling to play catch up and relay the information to their clients.
Although a new parking lot will open with the RCC, Sailer is concerned that it may not be sufficient in accommodating everyone who would use it — which includes RCC trail users, Redmond Saturday Market shoppers, downtown business customers and more.
In planning for downtown growth, Sailer said he feels the city did not really include area small businesses in the process or planned for the impacts the construction would have on them.
“What about the businesses?” he asked. “They’re sort of the stepchild of the (downtown development).”
Jamie Ambrose, a sales associate at State Farm Insurance at 16528 Cleveland St., said the current construction is a bit of a distraction with the noise, rerouting roads and construction vehicles taking up parking spaces, but she understands all of this is in the name of city growth.
Smith acknowledged the inconvenience the construction is causing downtown and said she hopes people will be understanding and look at the big picture for what the city is working to achieve.
“Construction is inconvenient and it’s painful, but it’s necessary to get to the final goal,” she said.
Suzy Burke-Myers, the financial adviser at the Edward Jones next door to PNWLG on Cleveland Street, said they haven’t been disrupted too much by the construction, which currently includes the closing of Cleveland Street in front of the building. She said they do have to take an extra step in informing customers of the construction, but that’s fine with them because they know what they will be gaining once things are done.
“We’re excited about having a beautiful park across the street,” she said about Downtown Park. “We’ll make it work.”
Smith said development of the Downtown Park will continue with the next step in the process on Sept. 26. There will be a community meeting in which the five consultant finalists to design the park will give presentations on their ideas and concepts for the park. After the presentations, Smith said the community will rate and vote for who will be the final consultant. Once the consultant is determined, there will be opportunities for the community to contribute ideas and share what they would like to see in the park.
“They get to really contribute and influence,” said City of Redmond communications specialist Anne Marie Peacock.
Smith said within the next 10 weeks, the buildings located on Brown Street between Redmond Way and Cleveland Street will be coming down to make way for the park. Before the land gets developed, she said the space will be used for staging for the upcoming Cleveland streetscape and parking for construction vehicle and equipment.
Smith said the streetscape is the project that will prepare for the couplet conversion of turning Cleveland Street and Redmond Way back into two-way streets. The work on the conversion is scheduled to begin in 2015 with it being complete around spring 2016. With the conversion, she said Redmond Way will be the higher-speed arterial and Cleveland Street will be more of a main street with a curb-less sidewalk, making it more vehicle, bike and pedestrian friendly.
• City Council approved its Transportation Master Plan (TMP) 6-0 at Tuesday night’s meeting. The five TMP strategies are: strong support for urban centers; improve travel choices and mobility; prepare for light rail; increase neighborhood connections; enhance mobility.
• According to Smith, there have been no land-use-action or other permit applications for the recently closed ARCO site, 8009 164th Ave. N.E.