When you think of excitement, hustle and bustle, you’re probably not thinking about downtown Redmond.
For years, the downtown neighborhood — outside of Redmond Town Center — has suffered from an identity crisis. You rarely see pedestrians. And small business owners have complained that no one seems to know where they are, because of the confusing one-way streets.
A community meeting on June 19 at Redmond City Hall, gave residents and business people a glimpse of how downtown Redmond could look in the near future.
Project managers Joel Pfundt and Jeanne Justice explained the goal of the project: “To reclaim our downtown as an economically healthy, people-friendly place, enhanced by the movement of pedestrians, bikes, cars and a diversity of businesses.”
Phase one of the downtown overhaul begins this August and runs through the summer of 2009. The Bear Creek Parkway Expansion, from Redmond Way to Leary Way, will create a new “gateway” to the heart of Redmond, with a travel lane in each direction, a center turn lane, on-street parking and 14-foot sidewalks.
Phases two through four are contingent upon adequate funding and property acquisition, but the Downtown East/West Corridor Study calls for the following ways to make downtown Redmond a more popular destination:
• In phase two of the project, the one-way couplet of Redmond Way and Cleveland Street will revert to two-way traffic, plus there will be a Cleveland Street build-out and central promenade. Design will take place between 2009 and 2010, with construction slated for 2010/2011.
• Phase three calls for new connections, called “woonerven.” Originating in the Netherlands, a “woonerf” (the singular form of “woonerven”) is like an alley or side street which is open to both auto and foot/bike traffic and makes a downtown neighborhood easier to navigate. Brown and Gilman Streets are existing examples in downtown Redmond. The plan is to add more such connections, with more storefronts, restaurants, coffee shops and other attractions that invite people to stroll.
Design and construction for phase three will begin in 2010, with both the City of Redmond and private development involved.
• Phase four will bring service from Sound Transit and light rail to downtown Redmond. Preliminary design and environmental impact statement (EIS) work continue through 2009 and design and construction plans are pending.
When all is said and done, downtown Redmond should have smooth circulation for all modes of transportation, enough parking for businesses, residents, visitors and deliveries, a wide range of travel choices, parks and open spaces, a railroad right-of-way with flexible options and last but not least, “great streets.”
The project managers forsee Cleveland Street as a traditional Main Street type of promenade.
When a resident asked why Redmond Way wouldn’t be the so-called “Main Street,” Pfundt explained that “a traditional Main Street is about calming traffic rather than moving traffic through. Redmond Way is more of the traffic thoroughfare. Cleveland Street would be more of a quaint, or boutique kind of street, but that isn’t to say that Redmond Way won’t also be a great street.”
Redmond City Council members Pat Vache and Hank Margeson briefly addressed the crowd at the community meeting, standing in for Mayor John Marchione and Council President Nancy McCormick, both of whom were out of town. Council members Kim Allen and Richard Cole were also present.
Vache and Margeson expressed delight at the new downtown vision and encouraged citizens to be part of the ongoing decision-making process.
This summer, project managers will hold one-on-one-meetings with stakeholders such as downtown business owners, discussing pros and cons of proposed changes. Another public meeting will be held in the fall and will include presentations of preferred plans, cost estimates and timetables for completion. Feedback will be gathered before plans are taken to the City Council in approximately November.
Meanwhile, those who missed the June 19 meeting are invited to visit the Web site www.redmond.gov/connectingredmond/studies/dewcs.asp for updates on the Downtown East/West Corridor Study. Questions or suggestions may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, (425) 556-2887 or (425) 556-2750.