Packed house gets closer look at proposed new Edmonds Waterfront Center

Artist's rendering of the new senior center as viewed from the northwest, showing the proposed enhanced beach habitat in the foreground.
Artist’s rendering of the new senior center as viewed from the northwest, showing the proposed enhanced beach habitat in the foreground.

More than 200 interested citizens gathered in the Edmonds Senior Center downstairs ballroom on Wednesday evening to examine the proposed plans for the new Edmonds Waterfront Center developed by The Environmental Works of Seattle, and hear from Senior Center Staff, architects, consultants and city officials.

“Tonight we want to hear from you,” said Senior Center Executive Director Farrell Fleming. “We at the center, the consultants, city staff and our elected officials all want to know what you think of these plans and how we can make them even better.”

A crowd of more than 200 interested citizens packed the Senior Center downstairs ballroom to hear Executive Director Farrell Fleming and others describe the plans for the new Edmonds Waterfront Center.
A crowd packed the Senior Center downstairs ballroom to listen to Executive Director Farrell Fleming and others describe the plans for the new Edmonds Waterfront Center.

Unlike the present structure, which was originally designed as a boat storage facility, the proposed two-story building would be constructed to LEED silver and gold standards, and be designed from the ground up as a community center, with interior space laid out to ensure maximum future flexibility. The first floor would include space for a column-free divisible banquet room/ballroom, cafeteria and thrift shop, and a large, glassed-in community lounge/ballroom area on the northwest corner designed to maximize views of the mountains, Puget Sound, and ferry traffic. The second floor would house several multi-purpose rooms, health clinics, a conference area, exercise rooms, and administrative offices.

The new Edmonds Waterfront Center as it would appear from the east.
The new Edmonds Waterfront Center as it would appear from the east.

In addition to the building itself, the proposal includes a host of site improvements aimed at maximizing environmental benefits and sustainability. Among these would be replacing the present creosote dock, seawall and toxic pilings with restored beach, intertidal and upland areas enhanced with native plants and offering additional wildlife habitat. These would be accessible from adjacent walkways, and would include an ADA-compliant ramp that would also serve as a launch area for kayaks and other hand-carried watercraft. Other proposed environmental enhancements include rain gardens to help naturally detoxify runoff before it enters Puget Sound, and an innovative geothermal heating system for the building itself.

Answering concerns about potential loss of parking, staff was quick to assure the audience that while parking would be necessarily reconfigured, there would be no net loss of parking stalls. Other concerns focused on maintaining accessibility via public transit, keeping community health care programs, and maintaining a pool/billiard room.

Edmonds Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Director Carrie Hite talks about working with the owners of the adjacent Ebb Tide Apartments to move toward a continuous connected walkway along the Edmonds Waterfront.
Edmonds Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Director Carrie Hite talks about working with the owners of the adjacent Ebb Tide Apartments to move toward a continuous connected walkway along the Edmonds Waterfront.

Asked about whether the project will address the “missing link” between the north and south sections of the waterfront walkway currently imposed by the section of private beach belonging to the Ebb Tide Apartments, Edmonds Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Director Carrie Hite described how the city is working with the owners of the Ebb Tide to reach a win-win compromise that would allow this to happen. “The City Council supports a continuous walkway,” she added, “and we have been engaged in discussion with the Ebb Tide owners. I’m hopeful we can reach some resolution.”

The issue of rising sea levels was addressed by consultant Jeff Parsons, who told the audience that the first level of the new building would be 4-5 feet higher than the present structure, putting it at least one foot above currently mandated levels to address expected sea level increases. Citing city-mandated building height limits, he added, “but we need to realize that by raising the floor we lose usable space, because we can only go so high.”

Senior Center Director Farrell Fleming then took the podium to address construction impacts and scheduling.

“Once we break ground, construction will take about a year,” he said, “and I want to make sure everyone knows that we plan to continue our full array of programs during construction. We’re looking at other local facilities right now including Harbor Square and the former Conference Center to use during construction.”

Regarding the schedule, Fleming pointed out that it hinges on the success of two pending grant applications, the results of which should be known in a few weeks. “If both these come through as we hope and we are able to attract some matching money, there is no reason we couldn’t break ground in late 2017, with completion as early as late 2018,” he said. “If they don’t come through, we’ll be looking at other funding options which would likely delay construction.”

Former Edmonds Mayor Gary Haakenson, who is volunteering to help with project publicity and promotions, answers questions for an attendee.
Former Edmonds Mayor Gary Haakenson, who is volunteering to help with project publicity and promotions, answers questions for an attendee.
Project staff answered questions for attendees.
Project staff were on hand to provide additional information.

Last to the podium was consultant Sally Knodell, who asked the audience to imagine seeing the new Waterfront Center from an approaching ferry at night. “Just imagine the thrill of seeing the building all lit up like a beacon on the waterfront,” she said. “As you get closer you hear music drifting across the water, turn your head to look, and through the tall glass wall you see scores of people…dancing.”

— Story and photos by Larry Vogel

  1. It was a wonderful open house and thank each and every one of you that came and took the time to understand, ask questions and provide input. There will be more of these open houses in the future; but this was a fabulous beginning for the public process.

  2. A continuous walkway from the ferry dock to the bridge at Union Oil Beach would be a huge benefit to all those that walk this path daily! I hope it happens!

  3. Thanks for your comment, Delia.

    By way of background, Edmonds Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Director Carrie Hite stated at the open house that the section of private beach separating the north and south sections of the waterfront walkway is for the exclusive use of residents of the 20-unit Ebb Tide building. She went on to say that the units are individually owned by 18 separate owners (two of these owners own two units each), and 70% are rented out (i.e., not owner-occupied). While she continues to work with the 18 owners of the Ebb Tide to come to a workable solution that will allow a continuous walkway for the community and visitors to enjoy, she reports that they remain quite adamant about not losing their exclusive use of this section of the beach.

    –Larry Vogel, reporter, My Edmonds News

    1. I would be a shame if owners of those units refused to work with the city’s need to connect the mile of public walkway for public access. It stands as the only inaccessible portion of what could be a continuous mile long pedestrian way linking the parks at both ends. The completion of walkway would add value to their units.

      If these selfish few continue to refuse to work with the city, the property should be taken by eminent domain. There are plenty of precedents for its application here.

  4. This is a beautiful plan which could draw lots of people, especially in Spring, Summer, and Fall. There is ballroom for weddings, receptions, graduations, public space, and lots of offices, etc. My question is “where are they to park? The present lot is too small; the lot south is designated for the fishing pier, and is heavily used; the northern lots at the port, are packed, especially when the yacht club has a function or the Port hosts a fishing event; and both Salish Crossing and Harbor Square are reserved for tenants and Sound Transit. On a nice summer weekend there is very little (legal) place to park. Parking is a problem that cannot be wished away.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Real first and last names — as well as city of residence — are required for all commenters.
This is so we can verify your identity before approving your comment.

By commenting here you agree to abide by our Code of Conduct. Please read our code at the bottom of this page before commenting.