City of Kirkland fighting developer in court

by: Natasha Chen Updated:

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KIRKLAND, Wash. —

The city of Kirkland has appealed to a Washington state court after a King County Superior Court judge allowed a developer to build 88 living units on a piece of prime waterfront property. 

The developer, Path America, has planned the living units above a set of ground-floor retail shops, along with underground parking.

The Patola Village project has been in the works for more than three years, but almost half that time has now been spent in litigation with the city. 

KIRO 7 called and emailed Path America but has not received a response yet. 

City Manager Kurt Triplett said the developer applied for a shoreline permit, which concerns any building project that may have an impact on the shoreline. 

Since that time, the City Council changed codes that would only permit 57 living units in that space. But Path America intends to build 88 units.

Triplett said the shoreline permit had nothing to do with the number of units to be built, yet Path America contends they have the right to follow codes at the time they got that permit, rather than follow current rules. 

Triplett said the challenge is “still the uncertainty of the lawsuit. It would be nice for everybody to know, so the developer can proceed with one project or the other.” 

Kirkland Mayor Amy Walen said the city has planned for more density near hubs of public transit. But this project caught people off guard because she said the land was originally seen as three separate parcels instead of one large development.

“We're just trying to work through what would be an acceptable compromise to everyone in our community. It's been challenging, but we're working through it,” Walen said. 

Neighbors living directly adjacent to the property told KIRO 7 they did not want to appear on camera, because they are currently negotiating with the developer over easement issues.

They said they would prefer not to have the building there at all, but are now hoping for a structure with less density in living spaces. 

People who drive along Lake Washington Boulevard said the strip is already crowded enough. 

“I drive down there after work every day, and I'm scared to death I'm going to run someone over, because they're popping out from all over the place,” said Brent Barton.

Other residents, like Tony Choppa, said he recognizes this as part of any growing city. 

“I accept the fact that I moved to downtown Kirkland, and it's going to be a dense area,” Choppa said. 

Both residents, agreed however, that the developer should build according to new zoning codes, because the building has not started yet.