News

Cleveland Streetscape brings frustrations as community thinks of long-term benefits

Portions of Cleveland Street will be closed throughout the year as the City of Redmond works on the Cleveland Streetscape project and prepares to convert it into a two-way road. - Samantha Pak, Redmond Reporter
Portions of Cleveland Street will be closed throughout the year as the City of Redmond works on the Cleveland Streetscape project and prepares to convert it into a two-way road.
— image credit: Samantha Pak, Redmond Reporter

Construction on the Cleveland Streetscape project started in downtown Redmond earlier this month and while it’s only been a few weeks, many businesses nearby are already feeling — and hearing — the effects.

Cleveland Street between 161st Avenue Northeast and Leary Way was closed earlier this week as crews installed an underground water line and did electrical work and as a result, some local businesses experienced a slight dip in foot traffic.

ROAD CLOSURES AND CONFUSIONS

Rudy’s Barbershop, located at 16095 Cleveland St. just west of where the road closure begins, has been mildly affected, said manager Heidi Vlist.

“We’ve noticed a slight difference,” she said, adding that they still do steady business on the weekends when there is no construction and the streets are open again.

Vlist said they have also received calls from customers asking whether or not the barbershop is open.

Bob Sailer, owner and managing partner at Pacific Northwest Law Group, said the road closures have made it difficult for clients to access their business — located at 16141 Cleveland St., Suite C, along the first block of the road closure — “with residual impression that (they) are hard to find and difficult to meet with.” In addition, he said they receive their mail, FedEx and UPS deliveries much later in the day, which has affected their ability to respond to clients.

Despite these difficulties, Sailer acknowledged that they have received some help.

“The road crews, including the police and construction workers, have been very friendly and accommodating for us to reach our office and garage,” he said.

THE INCONVENIENCES OF CONSTRUCTION

If the construction is not deterring customers, then it is inconveniencing them a bit, according to various businesses.

Edward Jones financial adviser Suzy Burke-Myers’ office is located in the same building as Sailer’s. She said her business hasn’t really been affected since clients are referral only and usually have scheduled appointments. However, she said, her office has been doing some “extra coaching” to inform clients where to park since the parking garage in their building can be confusing at the moment.

Melodee Norton, who lives in the Cleveland Condominiums building above Sailer and Burke-Myers’ offices, said she is able to walk to work but acknowledged that getting in and out of the building on the days she doesn’t work and drives can be an issue.

“I know the construction will have an impact on moving through and around Cleveland Street but believe the end result will be advantageous to all that live in or visit downtown Redmond,” Norton said.

People can access the Cleveland garage by driving around the building on Bear Creek Parkway and turning in along the former Brown Street or access Brown Street — which has reopened at the moment — from Redmond Way. While this is an option, Burke-Myers said they are making things simpler for their clients.

“We’re telling people it’s just easier parking on the street,” she said.

But with a good portion of Cleveland Street closed at the moment, a good portion of street parking has also become unavailable.

Tina Phan, an employee at U.S. Nails on the corner of Cleveland Street and Leary Way, said things have been OK for them, but they have had customers coming in and complaining about the lack of parking at the moment.

In response to Phan’s comment, a customer at the nail salon Tuesday morning pointed out that parking has always been a problem downtown.

“It’s more of a problem,” Phan replied about the current situation.

The noise from the construction equipment has also been a distraction.

With the construction work ending at Leary Way, U.S. Nails is experiencing the noisiness. But Phan said they’re still doing OK.

Although things have quieted down for her now that the work has moved further along the street, Burke-Myers said the noise from crews installing the water line in front of her office last week made it difficult to talk on the phone as well as meet with clients.

“But we’ll certainly be happy when (the Streetscape project is) done,” she said.

FURTHER CLOSURES AND OUTREACH

Anne Marie Peacock, communications specialist for the City of Redmond, said they have received feedback from the community regarding the noise as well as others frustrated about not knowing the details of the construction timeline and impacts. She said the city plans to send businesses a weekly email with the week’s projected schedule so they can share with staff, residents, customers and clients.

Burke-Myers said the city has been doing a good job of notifying and involving the community in what is going on, but Sailer, her building mate, begs to differ.

“The city basically tells us what will be happening, conducts an occasional public meeting for input and then ignores the recommendations and concerns,” he said. “There is never any followup or feedback to comments or recommendations, only more ‘telling what’s happening’ emails from the city communications specialists who seem to consider communication a one-way street.”

He added that the city never met with businesses and residents along Cleveland Street to hear what potential impact the work would have on them. He suggested the city institutionalize a business impact statement for any such long-term work and actually document and respond to the concerns of business owners and residents.

On Thursday and Friday, the intersection of Cleveland Street and Leary Way and Cleveland Street east of there will be closed to through traffic. In addition, Gilman Street will be available as a two-way street.

LONG-TERM VISION

Burke-Myers said all of the construction has prompted questions from clients who have been curious about the work.

That work includes the underground utility work currently being done to prepare Cleveland Street — along with Redmond Way — to be converted into a two-way street. According to previous reports, the new Cleveland Street will also feature a concrete roadway and (curb-less) sidewalks and landscaped areas as opposed to being lined with trees — making it unique from any other roadway in Redmond.

“There’s a lot going on,” acknowledged Peacock. “It’s extensive construction work.”

Norton said she enjoys the park space, trails and walkability that has been incorporated in downtown and has high hopes for the Cleveland Streetscape.

“The (Redmond Central Connector) project behind my building seems to have taken longer than projected but since it did not have a large impact on traffic it was tolerable,” she said. “Hopefully the Cleveland Street project will stay on track and keep traffic flowing during the improvements.”

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