Design consultants are now sharing their final report on Montlake’s business district as the city-funded planning grant draws to a close. Business owners and Montlake Community Club project leaders gathered April 12 at Glam & Tonics Aveda Salon to receive the report and talk one more time with Paul Fuesel and Liz Gibson of Studio KPG. They viewed, commented and praised the report’s drawings, photos, and explanatory text illuminating a conceptual plan for Montlake’s “downtown.” The plan aims to create a distinctive identity, revitalize the 24th Avenue business district, and calm the street for accessibility and safety. With an eye toward both functional and aesthetic goals, the proposed plan from KPG includes street and sidewalk reconfiguration, traffic signals, wayfinding signage, plantings, public art, and amenities. (You can view/download a copy of the final report here.)
Now that the Montlake Business District conceptual design has been created, it will become one of several tools that SDOT traffic planners and engineers can use as they continue with the 23rd/24th Avenue Traffic Corridor Improvement Project construction. Montlake is part of that project’s Phase 3. The plan will also provide input to the City’s Vision Zero efforts to increase driver, pedestrian and cyclist safety on Seattle streets. MCC project leaders also hope that it will give an encouraging boost to the Montlake business district building owners to do their part in making upgrades to their properties as well.
MCC Project leaders, Kathy Laughman and Bryan Haworth, soon will be submitting a follow-up grant proposal to the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods to follow through on parts of the conceptual design that are within neighborhood control, especially the public arts and beautification aspects. You’ll be hearing more about this follow-up effort over the next few months.
Of course there are still unanswered questions about Montlake’s business district future. Some were voiced by the business owners as they reviewed the conceptual plan from KPG and generally gave it praise. Questions focused not so much on the design itself, but on procedures, for example: What is SDOT’s timeline for any decisions and implementation of Vision Zero improvements and Phase 3 of the Traffic Corridor Improvement Project? How long will construction through Montlake last, once it’s begun? And, what kind of mitigation/support will be given to the businesses and residents (including the Montlake Blvd Market) as all of the work impacts them, including the seemingly endless Hwy 520 project? Finally, how can the Montlake community continue to have a positive effect on the decisions and actions taken by the City and State toward shaping our future as a livable, friendly, safe, and beautiful neighborhood? We can be pretty sure that nothing will happen in a hurry. We can also be quite sure that something will happen—eventually.