The New Westgate | Mayor's Message

By Dave Earling, mayor of Edmonds | Apr 16, 2015

Making "big decisions" in Edmonds has always been a bit of a challenge, especially when a land use decision is front and center. A week ago, after 5 years of study, engaging numerous consultants on transportation, land use, scores of public meetings and hearings, as well as general teeth gnashing, the Edmonds City Council made a very important decision.

By a vote of 5-2 the council approved a plan which will allow mixed-use development (commercial and residential) at Westgate... and began a new vision of a local, walkable, and vibrant neighborhood.

Of course for years Westgate has been a very viable commercial area: grocery stores, banks, service businesses, restaurants, and retail. These are all the ingredients for a local neighborhood, with one exception, the lack of housing. Because of the lack of available housing, what we have is pretty much a nice strip mall! We should have so much more. Westgate is a high-quality commercial area, but most people, unfortunately, have to drive there.

Now there is the opportunity to incorporate housing into the area. It may be townhouses, apartments or condos. Whatever it is, over time what you may see are commercial businesses on the first floor and a couple of stories of housing units above. So, for the first time, we will have a built-in "audience" to walk to all the neighborhood conveniences.

In addition, requirements are in place to provide open spaces, pocket parks, and "people places.” Anyone wishing to develop property in the quadrant will have to meet thorough design guidelines.

As our demographics evolve (and they are) there is more and more interest in having opportunities to live, work, do business and play in local neighborhoods. In addition, being close to transportation options is also important, as people seek to simplify their lives.

After all folks, we have the described above neighborhood right here in downtown Edmonds! We value being able to walk to the bank, to a restaurant, or to a shop… and then walking back home again. We are simply ahead of our times in downtown and that is the same long-term intent we have for Westgate.

All of this will take years to bring about, although we know of one group who is interested in such a concept. Again change is difficult. Growth can be worrisome. But handled carefully and thoughtfully the “changed" Westgate will benefit all of us. In any regard, the City Council and staff have thoughtfully crafted the Westgate plan and should be congratulated on their work.

 

 

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