Downtown Kirkland's Renaissance Is Here

A slew of new restaurant and boutique shop openings have brought a renaissance to downtown Kirkland

It was only a few years ago that downtown Kirkland was in bad shape. Shopkeepers leaving town, stores boarded up on every street -- the signs of a small community ravaged by a dismal economy. Those days are now just a memory. Independent small business men and women are placing their bets on Kirkland, investing in our community and today, the number of new store openings is inspiring. Downtown Kirkland is where investment is being made and people are making their future. 

Some new developments in downtown Kirkland from 2011. Since that time several businesses have gone or relocated and new ones have taken their place.

Some new developments in downtown Kirkland from 2011. Since that time several businesses have gone or relocated and new ones have taken their place.

We wrote about the renaissance of downtown Kirkland back in 2011. Since that time, the influx of new shops and restaurants has only quickened. The current pace of grand openings and ribbon cuttings in Kirkland is impressive.

Visitors will find the familiar picturesque lakeside downtown scene filled with new shops and a renewed sense of vitality. They may also find it easier to traverse. Much of the long-term construction in the downtown core has finished now and Park Lane is now reopened to traffic improving movement of vehicles.

Here are just a few of the new businesses in town and a few opening soon:

 

The location of downtown Kirkland on Lake Washington has always been a draw for people but businesses have not always flourished here. A concerted effort to turn this tide over the years seems to be paying off. Despite strong opposition at the time, multifamily developments have brought a critical mass of residents to downtown, which in turn brings new businesses, restaurants and services. Condominiums like Kirkland Central (2006) and The Boulevard (2007) were followed by Merrill Gardens and The 101 bringing density into the downtown core. More is on the way with two more large multifamily projects under construction on Central Way.

The increased population density in the downtown core is a major contributor to Downtown Kirkland's success. Some grumpy neighbors say that traffic and parking issues associated with these developments are worsened. They are right. On the bright side, the City is looking at adding substantial parking supply to the downtown area with a proposal to build public parking at a site adjacent to City Hall. Additional parking and improved traffic flow would further benefit downtown.

The face of downtown Kirkland has changed substantially over the past decade. The familiar small town charm is still here but now there are a plethora of new shops and restaurants to explore. We are pleased to see it.