Visiting downtown Edmonds? City makes it easier to go


    City officials and dignitaries were flush with pride Tuesday as the ribbon was cut for Edmonds’ long-awaited downtown restroom. Among the first to try out the new facility was one of the city’s best-known citizens, European travel guru Rick Steves, who was present for the ceremony.

    “Every community deserves a centrally located restroom,” declared Steves, who gave a thumbs-up sign after exiting the building.

    The new three-room facility, which includes a men’s, women’s and unisex/family room, is located on 5th Avenue South in the parking lot just south of Edmonds City Hall.

    City Economic Development and Community Services Director Patrick Doherty told the small crowd gathered to mark the occasion that the restroom will ensure that “people feel more comfortable and spend more time in downtown Edmonds.”

    The city has talked about installing a restroom downtown for years, and the facility was ranked as a “very high” priority action item in the City’s Strategic Action Plan. The project finally came to fruition after the Edmonds City Council allocated funds in the city’s 2016 budget.

    Given its downtown location, the project was intentionally designed to look more like a traditional building than a typical restroom found in a city park, Doherty noted. The design includes storefront windows with metal faux frames on the Fifth Avenue façade. Those frames will be filled in the next month with informational and historical panels related to Edmonds’ maritime history, arts and culture, and indigenous peoples and resources.

    The total cost of the Downtown Restroom was just over $468,000, funded largely by City Real Estate Excise Tax and General Fund monies, with $60,000 in lodging tax as well as grants of $10,000 from the Edmonds Downtown Alliance, $5,000 from the Hubbard Family Foundation and $5,000 from the Edmonds Noon Rotary Club.

    The restroom will be open from dawn to dusk throughout the year and will be maintained by city custodial staff.

    — Story and photos by Teresa Wippel


    1. How often will the restrooms be supplied and cleaned and what will this cost per month?

      I would also like to see a breakdown of where the money was spent and why it cost so much. A price tag of $468,000 is very large, for such a small addition.

      • Council minutes related to the budget discussion for the restroom design prior to its approval are here:
        I have also asked for the maintenance schedule/monthly costs. I sat through all the meetings when this was discussed and councilmembers were clear that they wanted a facility that was both functional and attractive, given its central location and the number of events downtown every year (4th of July, Halloween, the Farmer’s market, tree lighting, car show, etc.). The original plan was to have two restroom stalls, one for men and one for women, but a third was added to accommodate those needing a family restroom, a disabled person with an attendant, etc. Adding that third stall did increase the cost.

        • Thank you for providing the link. I looked over option 1 and option 2 and it seems that adding a 3rd stall, for families, increased the cost almost $100,000? The costs here still seem completely outrageous, even with the original budget. Can you please have the city provide a line item breakdown.

          Also will these restrooms be open year round? Will they be locked at night? It seems like these could a security issue for downtown Edmond’s, as these type of facilities tend to attract certain illicit behavior.

          • I don’t have a line item for the budget — I have requested as much info as they can easily track down for me and I will share what I get, including maintenance costs. You may need to file a public records request to get more details. It is true that the additional stall did add another $100,000 to the cost. The story notes that the restrooms will be open year round from dawn to dusk only.

          • The city today provided a final summary of restroom expenses, and we have uploaded it here:

            The final figure of $436,434.41 is under the last Council-approved budget (as of 12/6/16) of $486,637.

            As for operations/maintenance, Economic Development/Community Services Director Patrick Doherty said the city doesn’t yet know exactly what those annual figures will be since it’s a new facility. “But at this point we have engaged no additional staff, nor do we expect to,” he said. “That means we intend to accomplish maintenance with existing staff (unless a particularly large event requires some overtime or extra hours, which could potentially be defrayed by event organizers). So really the additional cost is limited to the ‘operations’ side of the equation: supplies and utilities. We estimate those costs to run approximately $10,000 per annum.”

      • I agree. I have completely renovated an entire floor of a downtown Seattle building for $200,000.00 and that included electrical, lighting, HVAC plumbing, insulation, walls, paint, etc. A typical restroom built from scratch is in the $12k-$15k range so this seems way overpriced to me. I also would like to point out that this is going to impact the Saturday Framers Market somewhat on hot days. It will be interesting to see what booths want to be set up right in front of the toilets….

    2. Great Job! Every city needs a central public restroom and finally we have one! Great pictures Teresa and I am so glad it’s family friendly.

    3. I think it’s great! I can think of at least two other local cities that have central public restrooms – La Conner and Snohomish. Wonder how much it cost to build the ones in those two ciites?

    4. This city has needed a bathroom for years. For years Old Milltown merchants paid for the entire downtown usage. It was shocking our monthly bill. In the thousands. But the city didn’t care the Milltown merchants paid the bill. We had the only public bathroom in downtown and every business sent people to us. Whomever got the bathroom here in Edmonds I commend you for getting the job done. I want that person to do the A boards too.

    5. I remember about five years ago (??) a consultant who advises towns on becoming more appealing had several good suggestions for Edmonds. Near the top of his list was to install a downtown bathroom facility. Congratulations, Edmonds! We’re one step closer.
      The consultant also mentioned having a cluster of good restaurants in the downtown core, some with outdoor and/or sidewalk seating. Not sure how to promote that since the restaurants would be privately financed.

      Better signage (for visitors) and more parking were also high on his list. Does anyone have an overview of the consult’s report they could share? I can certainly see a need for more parking, especially when there are big special events (ECA, Taste of Edmonds, waterfront activities, etc.)


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