The City of Redmond is currently seeking feedback from the public on a final set of proposed amendments affecting the historic core downtown.
The policy and regulation amendments that are under review will guide new development in the core and are primarily focused on design standards, said Kimberly Dietz, senior planner for the city.
She said with all of the redevelopment occurring downtown, the city wanted to look back at its design standards to find a way to blend new development so the architecture is sympathetic to what is already in the historic core.
Redmond’s historic core is on Leary Way from Bear Creek Parkway to Northeast 80th Street and from Downtown Park to 164th Avenue Northeast. The plan for the core will ultimately include updated policies, revised regulations and design standards, a promotional program and informational guides on topics such as how to set up a new business.
“An exciting story continues to unfold through people who live, work and visit downtown’s historic core,” said Mayor John Marchione in a city press release. “Through careful and collaborative planning of the core’s architecture and infrastructure, we can all enjoy a vibrant and cherished downtown for people of all ages and interests.”
YEARS IN THE MAKING
Dietz said this work has been in the process since 2013 and the city first started community outreach in 2014 — a walking event with Feet First. They wanted to think through the different elements of the area and figure out how pedestrians could have a great experience in relation to the buildings, she said.
In 2015, city staff presented the Planning Commission with recommendations for the historic core and after receiving feedback, Dietz said they have worked to refine their recommendations. City planners broke the recommendations into three packages, the first two of which were presented to the commission earlier this year. Dietz said the current set of proposed amendments they are seeking feedback on is the final and largest package they will present to the commission.
The current set of amendments includes policies on standards such as building height and streetscape, Dietz said.
The Planning Commission will consider the final portion of proposed historic core updates during October and November. Opportunities for the public to review and comment on the proposed amendments include an open house from 5-7 p.m. on Aug. 15 at City Hall (Bytes Café), 15670 N.E. 85th St. The event will include materials for review and comment. In addition, there will be a public hearing at 7 p.m. on Nov. 9.
The majority of Redmond’s 16 historic landmark buildings — some of which date back to 1870 — are within the historic core.
“There is a great deal of history here,” said Joe Townsend, president of the Redmond Historical Society (RHS).
Dietz said landmark buildings are protected and the city and property owners must go through a process to get them designated.
One of the requirements is that the building must be at least 50 years old and she said while a building of this age may be considered historical, it must meet other requirements to be deemed a landmark.
Among the landmark buildings in Redmond’s historic core is the Justice White House, located at 7529 Leary Way N.E.
Townsend said the two-and-a-half-story building is one of the most historical buildings in Redmond.
According to the city’s website, the building’s namesake, William Henry White, served in the Civil War, before he was appointed as a Washington State Supreme Court justice. White married Emma McRedmond, the daughter of one of Redmond’s first settlers, Luke McRedmond. The Whites built their home, which also served as a hotel, in 1889.
The intersection of Leary Way and Cleveland Street is also home to a number of landmark and historical buildings.
One of those landmark buildings in the historic core is the former Redmond Sate Bank building (7841 Leary Way N.E.) from 1911. Townsend said the front structure now houses the Homegrown sandwich shop. He said the shop’s neighbor, Molly Moon’s, was an addition that was built later.
Also located at that intersection is the former Grand Central Hotel (7844 Leary Way N.E.). Townsend said the building is not landmarked and currently houses Eastern Pearl Restaurant. According to the RHS website, the hotel was built by Fred and Mary Heiser Walther in 1910 to replace their Hotel Walther, which burned down earlier that year on Gilman Street.
“It’s a great structure,” Townsend said, noting that the building is known for its metal facade. “We don’t know the condition of the building under the metal.”
Across the street is the landmarked Bill Brown Saloon (7824 Leary Way N.E.), which is now home to the Matador Redmond. The city website states that the building was built by Bill Brown — who was mayor of Redmond from 1919-48 — in 1913. Other building occupants include a dance hall, town council meeting place, barber shop, undertaker, interior designer, hardware store and dance studio.
While the current amendments are aimed toward future development, Townsend said he would like to see more work on getting historic buildings landmarked and the current landmarked properties continue being taken care of.
“We would like to see (the buildings) preserved,” he said.
This being said, he acknowledges that it takes a lot of money to restore a building.
Dietz said the city has a program that offers grant money for historic and landmark restoration projects. She said applicants can receive up to $10,000 in unmatched funds or $50,000 in matched funds.
For more information regarding the historic core, visit www.redmond.gov/history.