On any given day in Jaclyn Pang’s Bothell Landing neighborhood, the landscape is a contrasting mix of bulldozers, power drills and protected wetlands.
But as the construction dust starts to settle on the first of many residential, retail and traffic projects in a mega-money revitalization around Pang’s Sammamish Slough-area apartment, there’s a whole other slew of new starting to change the view.
With one multistory apartment building ready for “hard-hat” pre-rental tours next month, a boutique hotel and swank entertainment complex set to open in the summer of 2014 — and a major traffic realignment about 13 months out — Pang says a buzz about the new face of Bothell Landing neighborhoods is starting to grow.
“There are a lot of 20- and 30-somethings like me who see all these changes going on and it’s just what we’ve been waiting for,” says Pang, 20, a Bellevue transplant who started renting an apartment near the University of Washington-Bothell when she enrolled as a freshman. “I’m excited about all the opportunities and being able to walk to everything.”
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Blending what planners believe will be equal parts “hip” and “charm,” Bothell Assistant City Manager Terrie Battuello says the changes are the “largest publicly led downtown revitalization in the state, a transformation that connects old Bothell to new Bothell.”
A lot of building
Backed by $150 million in public investment and $207 million in private funding, the multiphase face-lift is reincarnating downtown Bothell in northeast King County, and turning it into Bothell Landing: a suburban district linking five minineighborhoods that stretch from Wayne Golf Course and Main Street to the UW-Bothell and Cascadia Community College campuses.
It’s a big deal for those who have had their eye on moving to Bothell Landing, Battuello says.
As of March 2012, Bothell Landing had 1,937 units in apartment buildings larger than 20 dwellings. An additional 1,100 units are in the district’s two-year plans, according to Battuello. Many of these are near the UW-Bothell and Cascadia college campuses.
Pang believes even these earliest changes are attracting more students to rental choices at the east edge of this district, shifting away from its identity as a mostly commuter school.
The UW-Bothell, with its current 4,200 full-time students, could grow to 6,000 students by 2015, according to college spokeswoman Lisa Hall.
The average rent in the area is $1,787, up 4.9 percent from a year ago, according to Zillow’s Rent Index.
The median value of single-family homes (not just those recently sold) in Bothell has increased 12 percent in the past year to $326,200, according to Seattle-based Zillow’s Home Value Index. That makes Bothell one of the more affordable neighborhoods in King County, where the median single-family home sold for $392,000 in March, according to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.
Planners and developers believe Bothell Landing will be a magnet for 20- to 34-year-olds, including those like Pang, seeking neighborhoods with entertainment, employment and recreation all within walking distance.
Some say the changes have been a long time coming.
For more than three years, the “Bothell Crossroads” realignment project has been preparing a cure for the longtime traffic bottleneck at Highways 522 (Bothell Way) and 527 (Bothell-Everett Highway).
Road crews continue to carve four new vehicle lanes, turn lanes and sidewalks through a corridor south of existing Highway 522/Bothell Way Northeast, a route used by an estimated 46,400 vehicles each weekday.
After its mid-2014 forecast completion date, part of the old 522 section will be redesigned into “The Junction,” the first of Bothell Landing’s five clustered minineighborhoods.
The section of old Highway 527 will become “The Boulevard,” a corridor of tree-lined medians designed to separate vehicular traffic from pedestrians who live, work or shop along the route.
The downtown Bothell area is considered “very walkable.” Walk Score, a Seattle company that provides automated walkability ratings, gives the downtown area a score of 77 out of 100, meaning most errands can be done on foot.
Signs of the past
For some long-timers, the changes are among the most dramatic in the city’s history.
“Bothell has been here for well over 100 years, and it has been home to many generations of logging and dairy families,” says Battuello.
In “Slough of Memories,” the Northshore History Boosters share a 200-page published collection of stories and snapshots from 1920-1990, ranging from pioneer tales of boys accidentally swimming in cow manure that had been washed into the Sammamish River by a local dairy almost a century ago, to details of small hydroplanes racing at 60 mph near the same strip some four decades later.
And yet, much remains the same at Bothell Landing. A few hundred yards from the park’s well-used footbridge over the river, three generations of the Kaske family still roll out Danish kringle, strudel and macaroons at the same Hillcrest Bakery they’ve owned since 1975.
Up Main Street, dotted by vibrant flower baskets, a colorful chalkboard menu hangs from beams that support the original 1927 building now housing Alexa’s Cafe.
Battuello says today’s plans are designed not only to preserve this local character and charm but pay homage to it.
One example: by next year, the trendy Oregon-based McMenamins hotelier expects to reopen the historic redbrick, art deco-style Anderson School, a building that accepted its first students in 1931.
McMenamins, which has a series of 57 other hospitality venues in Washington and Oregon, is refurbishing Anderson School and four buildings on the 5.41-acre site to make it their Puget Sound flagship destination.
The 70-room hotel intends to feature a restaurant, pub, movie theater, live-music venue, spa, meeting space and swimming pool. According to the sales deal the city cut, Bothell Landing neighbors will have free access to the pool, Battuello says.
Neighbor Julie Brockmeyer calls this commitment a coup and believes it’s going to give Bothell Landing’s five minineighborhoods a more prominent role on the Eastside map.
“When we moved here in 1990, friends in north Bellevue called this ‘the boondocks,’” she says.
No more, says Main Street Property Group President Kelly Price.
“A lot of people have been passing through here for years, not realizing that the city has been maturing,” says Price, whose company is behind 318 one-bedroom planned flats in two of the first new urban-flavored retail/apartment complexes in the district.
“Now, all of a sudden, with these projects moving forward, a lot of people have discovered what the citizens of Bothell have known for years: that this is incredibly close to anywhere you want to go.”
Brockmeyer, who volunteered as an art docent to work with grade-schoolers creating artistic images of what the future Bothell Landing neighborhoods should look like, is one of those loyalists.
“I’m excited to see the downtown expand,” she says. “I’ve been to cities that have come together piecemeal, but there is such a vision to this project.”
Place to walk
It’s one of the reasons Brockmeyer’s parents moved to Bothell after they retired. Her dad, a former dean and agriculture professor at Washington State University, likes walking with his young grandchildren to the pioneer schoolhouse in The Park at Bothell Landing.
An avid walker, Brockmeyer is also a fan of the 2.7-mile Town-and-Gown Trail, which loops from Main Street and extends past historic markers past a variety of new additions on the UW-Bothell campus.
“It’s so much fun being able to walk to a college from your own home,” Brockmeyer says. “In some cities, I feel like cities are losing ways to connect across all generations; in Bothell, I feel like we’re gaining it.”
Bothell Landing includes these neighborhoods:
The Junction: With a north/south section of Highway 527/Bothell-Everett Highway turning into a landscaped boulevard, planners expect wide “pedestrian-friendly” sidewalks will connect the planned McMenamins with The Park at Bothell Landing’s waterfront.
Designs for the existing Main Street include merging it into an east/west promenade that will connect with the Bothell Library. Street-level retail shops along The Boulevard are expected to be capped by three to five stories of offices and apartments.
Boulevard Place, a private project, hopes to offer some 250 units of senior housing on the site of the former Safeway store. Puyallup-based Pacific Northern Construction is currently partnering with Senior Housing Assistance Group (SHAG) for this development.
Riverfront: Already home to the Northshore Senior Center and a handful of senior housing developments on the south side of the Sammamish River, this mini-neighborhood ties into downtown via the pedestrian bridge that links it to the redesigned Park at Bothell Landing on the north shore of the river, south and east of Highway 522.
Park plans include a children’s play area, an amphitheater, a historic schoolhouse and pioneer cabin, kayak and bicycle rental, several natural viewpoints, picnic shelter and outdoor cafe should open next year when the highway realignment is complete.
West Bothell Landing: North of Main Street and west of The Boulevard, existing town homes and apartments here will see some new neighbors, including Six Oaks, a 203-unit apartment complex with street level businesses scheduled to break ground this summer.
The project gets its name from the six 85-foot-tall old-growth red oak trees preserved and designed into the new setting, according to Price, Main Street Property Group’s president. Wider sidewalks will link this mini-neighborhood to Pop Keeney Stadium, a landmark site for Northshore high-school football, and to The Junction.
East Bothell Landing: This large link between the other three mini-neighborhoods and the college campuses is home to the new City Hall, several churches, the police station, post office and courthouse.
Professional offices — houses in a colorful mix of cottages and bungalows — sit next to some of the largest apartment buildings on tap here. The 104 will soon start renting 115 urban-style one- and two-bedroom apartments on three floors just a few blocks from both schools and Main Street.
Campus: At the eastern edge of Bothell Landing, the schools make up most of this mini-neighborhood, but there’s also 58 acres of protected wetlands between the campuses and Interstate 405, and two new single-family developments under way near the freeway.