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Where We Live: Point Wells and What To Do About It

Looks like we'll get an Urban Center on Point Wells. What now?

Just a couple weeks ago I wrote up a 2013 to-do list for Shoreline/Lake Forest Park, but didn’t mention Point Wells. I thought it was either to be much reduced from the first plan or would be postponed for a while. Well, surprise!, the courts have spoken, and Point Wells seems to be a go--not the smaller version Snohomish County had specified and Shoreline had asked for, but the . I guess I’ll have to add it to “2062.” Tom Jamieson sure had a lot to say about how this was sprung on us.

Now, what do we do about it? By all their claims and stated intentions it sounds like a really good, positive project, just in the wrong place. Assume it goes in-- how do we make it the best place it can be while we minimize its costs to Shoreline as a whole and Richmond Beach in particular, which stands to be strongly impacted?

Shoreline has restricted traffic on Richmond Beach Drive (right along the tracks) in the hopes of coercing the developer into reducing the size of the project. I suspect by the same logic used by the Court of Appeals another court may overturn that attempt, but they--Blue Square Real Estate--might still be persuaded to bend to the will of Richmond Beach and the rest of the city. 

And while Blue Square calls out several ideas in their desire to include transit options and reduce car traffic, they are almost all things like a “potential Sound Transit commuter rail station at the site.” So it all depends on agencies other than the developer, and is not, therefore, something they can promise. Indeed, I am skeptical any Sounder station would ever be built there. There have been suggestions for years to put an additional station in Ballard, but it’s never been put in because it would add significantly to the commute time and would therefore act as a deterrent to train ridership. Point Wells is quite close to Edmonds, so the effect would be magnified.

While I would rather see this level of development in any one of many already-thriving neighborhoods, if it does go in I think we can make it a true asset to the community. One can hope this will lead to a strong increase in the business district of Richmond Beach, with the city nurturing the neighborhood as we did for North City so more, better, denser buildings can go in and local companies can thereby reap big benefits from all the new residents and activity.

And then there’s Woodway. Point Wells is included in their urban growth area, too, and they could easily connect to Point Wells by connecting 243rd? (a private road, it seems) to 205th/244th and annex it themselves. They could annex it, but they might not want to anyway, since it involves actual change, and they are one of those cities which don’t take their larger responsibilities seriously--that is, to densify and take a fair share of population growth. Point Wells would do that all by itself, as 3,081 proposed residential units at 2.39 persons per unit (Shoreline’s average household size) would increase their population by 7,363--a sixfold increase from their current (2010 census) 1,307 to nearly 8,700! I can see them blanching from here.

Woodway’s street grid is also much less capable of handling the additional traffic than the relatively direct Richmond Beach Road. The entire town is composed of windy little lanes and broken connections. In fact, they have no way to connect to Point Wells from the east or north without drastically widening existing streets and redesignating them "arterials" or cutting new roads through forests and backyards, so no real option there.

I think if this all goes in as planned Shoreline should seriously consider becoming lead partner, with Lake Forest Park and Metro or Sound Transit, in developing and building a light rail (acceptable) or monorail line (preferred, as it would be faster, less expensive, and won’t interfere with cars at all) from Point Wells through Richmond Beach, Richmond Highlands, Shoreline Town Center, the Link Light Rail station around 185th, North City, and Lake Forest Park Town Center. It would become the only true east-west through route connecting the two cities and would dramatically decrease car reliance and surface traffic across-town, especially including Richmond Beach, while increasing the viability and vitality of all communities concerned. That would be a win-win-win-win silver lining!

The Richmond Beach Community Association is holding a meeting devoted to Point Wells on Tuesday, Feb. 12, at 7:30 p.m. at the Richmond Beach Congregational Church, 1512 N.W. 195th St, in the basement meeting room.

©2013 Larry Lewis

Wendy DiPeso January 13, 2013 at 09:44 PM
Sound Transit has been very clear that they will not entertain putting in a rail station for Point Wells.
Larry Lewis January 14, 2013 at 04:08 AM
Hadn't seen that, but no surprise at all. They are leery of anything which will slow the trains, and if they ever put in another station I'm sure it will be in Ballard, if only for the much larger potential ridership.
Anthony Edmonds January 15, 2013 at 06:53 AM
Sweet! Very excited about this project and what it will do for the area. I think once people adapt to having a cool mix-use complex replace a bunch of filthy oil storage tanks they will be embarrassed to having ever objected to it. Just imagine if it were already housing and shops when a developer announced plans to tear it down and build oil tanks... there would be riots.
David Whalen January 22, 2013 at 04:09 AM
Which is unbelievably short-sighted. A 2 minute increase in commute time is not going to deter a rider from Everett who's committing 55 minutes already. With the threats to North Link currently, adding ridership is the only smart thing to do.
Mary February 12, 2013 at 08:50 PM
You must not live on or near Richmond Beach Rd.

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