Construction has begun on a pedestrian bridge serving the Lakewood transit station that officials envision will help draw redevelopment that shapes the area into a high-density residential and commercial center.
The bridge is to open in December, two months after Sound Transit is slated to extend Sounder commuter rail to the station along Old Pacific Highway.
The project also calls for improving Kendrick Street from 111th Street to the cul-de-sac near the railroad tracks where people will access the bridge. Improvements include curbs, gutters, sidewalks, bike lanes and street trees and lighting.
Residents as well as employees of St. Clare Hospital are cut off from direct access to the station and must walk about a mile to reach it. The gap is one factor impeding redevelopment interest in the area, officials say.
A decade ago, the city zoned the corridor around the station as “transit-oriented commercial” to attract a mix of high-density residential, retail and office development.
“To us, it’s a long-term investment,” Community Development Director David Bugher said of the bridge. “If you’re going to really make the transit-oriented center, you have to have the infrastructure.”
The area includes a mix of older homes and apartment buildings on smaller lots, and a developer would need to combine them to move ahead with that level of development, Bugher said. He said he’s had conversations with potential developers interested in the area, but securing financing has been an obstacle for them.
Steve Borman bought four lots along Kendrick as well as a large lot behind them with an apartment building and equipment yard for his masonry business. He plans to redevelop the properties into a large apartment complex with ground-floor retail but is waiting for the economy to turn around.
“It’s a few years off yet,” he said.
Joe Rodaway, who has lived at Kendrick and 111th streets for almost 20 years, said neighbors are generally excited about the new addition.
Lakewood has made little capital improvement in the neighborhood since it incorporated in 1996 and this project could pave the way for more improvements.
“This is just the start of potentially a great opportunity for future development and for cleaning up the area,” he said.
The project cost is nearly $3.8 million. Grant funding paid the bulk of the cost; the city chipped in $62,000 and Sound Transit contributed $117,000. The city awarded the construction contract to Lakewood-based Pease Construction in early May.