425Business magazine published an article on Kirkland's developments and its future, which included a section that drilled into what is happening at Totem Lake. An excerpt is below, and the full article is at http://425business.com/tour-kirklands-development-future/
Village at Totem Lake
For decades, Totem Lake was known more for its namesake shopping mall than its namesake lake (see “Totem Lake Park” below). Originally opened in 1973, the mall was home to department stores and even a movie theater. The mall started to decline in the mid-1990s as anchor tenants closed their doors. “For 20 or 30 years, it was a mall that had potential,” said deputy mayor Jay Arnold. “Then it slowly degraded and became a problem that needed to be solved.”
A solution started to emerge in 2003, when the area was formally designated an urban center, turning the focus toward housing, employment, and transportation developments. Indeed, some of the city’s biggest redevelopment projects are slated for the Totem Lake area. Arizona-based The Wolff Co. spent $23.5 million earlier this year to purchase property formerly owned by Lifebridge Church. The company plans to build 550 units of senior and market-rate residential housing on the nearly 13-acre site.
But the biggest development is the Village at Totem Lake. CenterCal Properties purchased the 26-acre site four years ago, and is nearing the completion of the first of two phases of a mixed-use project that includes more than 400,000 square feet of commercial space (tenants include Nordstrom Rack, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods Market, Wells Fargo, Chipotle, MOD Pizza, Verizon, and AT&T), and 850 units of housing. Construction of the second phase is scheduled to begin next year, and be completed in 2021.
“We are really enthusiastic that Totem Lake is redeveloping and becoming the place that we would like it to be,” said Arnold, who also noted the bulk of Kirkland’s growth is happening in Totem Lake; by 2030, Totem Lake is expected to boast 20,600 jobs and 8,000 residents. “It’s great, but a little awe-inspiring in its pace.”
“It’s very comparable to what’s going on in Bellevue with the Spring District,” added Triplett. “Bellevue’s focus is much more on the office side. But in terms of the total acreage and the total number of units in housing, it’s that kind of development, and it’s happening without Sound Transit light rail coming to catalyze it.”
Totem Lake Park
“Totem Lake is actually a lake,” said Triplett as we gathered along a boardwalk built along the four-acre lake’s shoreline. “Most people don’t know that.” While the city developed a master plan for the area, many residents said they wanted more done to showcase the lake, which is shrouded by thick vegetation and bordered by marshes (driving by the lake, and even standing on the boardwalk, it was difficult to catch a glimpse of water).
According to Triplett, the City invested in the Totem Lake Master Plan to create a mini Green Lake that includes the construction of a 10-foot-wide boardwalk that will circle the lake, as well as restrooms, a playground, parking lot, interpretive signs, and spots to view wildlife.
The city has set aside $9 million for the $15 million Totem Lake Park project, which currently is in the design phase. City officials envision the lake as a serene respite for visitors to nearby Evergreen Hospital, Lake Washington Institute of Technology, and the Village at Totem Lake.
Totem Lake Connector
Cyclists and pedestrians traveling along the 5.75-mile Cross Kirkland Corridor face a gauntlet of sorts when they reach the busy intersection of Totem Lake Boulevard and Northeast 124th Street. “This is our busiest intersection in the city,” explained Triplett. “Bikes and pedestrians are constantly stopped here, it takes forever for them to get across, and it’s not very safe because drivers are constantly turning without looking.”
This could be a much safer scene thanks to the a nearly $13 million bridge (known as the “skipping stone”) that will pass over this busy intersection, loop around at the southern end of Totem Lake Park for an elevated view of the lake, and continue toward the trail’s terminus.
The project is still in the design phase, but city officials hope it will be funded and built by 2020.