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Wednesday, May 26, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Snohomish County business

Edmonds looks to create Hwy. 99 business districts

Times Snohomish County bureau

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Highway 99 in Edmonds could have its own international district, more housing, a pedestrian-friendly shopping corridor and improved traffic patterns if the city adopted ideas proposed by focus groups.

The ideas were summarized in a 28-page report issued by Seattle design firm Makers last month and could affect future zoning changes and amendments to the city's comprehensive plan.

Edmonds formed a Highway 99 task force last year to study ways to diversify economic development along the retail-heavy stretch of highway and to evaluate potential traffic and aesthetic improvements. The focus groups were a first step toward improvements, said Duane Bowman, the city's development-services director.

The city now awaits feedback from another consulting firm, Seattle-based Berk & Associates, which is reviewing the area's economic-development potential and planning challenges of the concepts identified in the Makers report.

Berk will report its findings to the city's Planning Commission by July 1, Bowman said.

"This will give the planning board a jumping-off point for looking at Highway 99," Bowman said.

Focus-group participants stressed that the area lacks pedestrian appeal and a connection to Edmonds' character. Some also said the area should de-emphasize strip malls, forbid new casinos and encourage variation in architecture and amend traffic patterns to make left turns easier and reduce the number of turns from parking lots onto the highway.

The focus groups identified four themed areas that could emerge along Highway 99:

• A hospital area and community retail center south of 216th Street Southwest with stores and medical businesses, plus access to the Interurban Trail.

• An international district from 224th Street Southwest to 230th Street Southwest framed by new gateways at both ends and including two new traffic lights and connections between new office buildings and existing retail centers, such as Ranch 99 and Boohan Plaza, for more pedestrian appeal.

• A mixed residential and retail development from 230th Street Southwest to 236th Street Southwest that would include a new traffic light at 234th Street Southwest and an opportunity for mixed-use building on two undeveloped lots.

• A hotel and residential area from 238th Street Southwest to 240th Street Southwest with a new traffic light at 240th Street Southwest, an access road for multiple businesses to feed traffic to the new light and high-rise residential buildings.

Jane Hodges: 425-745-7813 or jhodges@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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