Google close to finalizing deal on new Kirkland campus

The culmination of almost three years of planning is coming to a head. Kirkland is getting closer to the finish line on a development agreement with Google.

KIRKLAND, Wash. — The City of Kirkland is getting closer to finalizing a deal with Google to expand its presence in the city, however, some residents fear the new development would come along with new problems.

When neighbors reflect on Kirkland, they describe a quaint town. It’s close enough to a large city and you don’t get all the traffic of living in Seattle. 

“Just that free and easy feeling, like yeah, I belong here,” said Eileen Forster whose grandparents moved to Kirkland in 1923. She along with other neighbors expressed concerns about the possible new development.

“We can’t turn our backs on the fact that we live next to Seattle and Bellevue, that these are tech hubs that are right next door. But we can’t turn our backs on the neighbors that made this town what it is,” said Bill Blanchard who is the chair of the Kirkland Alliance of Neighborhoods.

It’s the last public input session before the Kirkland City Council decides on signing a development agreement with Google.

“We want it to be the greenest Google campus in the United States and frankly around the world,” a Google representative said last week in a presentation to the city council.

Google would buy the 10-acre Lee Johnson site on 85th and create four buildings for their campus next to the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Station that’s going in at the Northeast 85th street and I-405 Interchange.

“There are a number of people opposed to this project because of the scale of it,” said Blanchard.

The plans allow the buildings to go up 250 feet. Google claims it will be a leader in sustainability as it grows its presence in the area. The campus would allow for seven-thousand employees.

“I think when people actually see what it will look like, it’ll be spectacular. It is larger than we’ve seen before in Kirkland, but we think it’s a scale that makes sense in Kirkland right next to this BRT station,” said Kurt Triplett who is the city manager for the City of Kirkland

The development would take years to complete during this 10-year contract with the city. The agreement prevents zoning changes and adds benefits to Kirkland. 

“So they’re making a direct $12.5 million investment in affordable housing,” said Triplett. 

Neighbors say they’ll be gridlocked with the scale of the campus. Triplett says there have been numerous studies on the traffic impacts the new campus would cause. 

“There’s no question there’s an impact but this is one of our top priorities was to make sure traffic has to work,” Triplett said.

People who have spent most of their life in Kirkland still have questions. 

“I think that they can be a great neighbor going forward. We’re just asking for it to be scaled down a bit so it can fit into the character of our city,” said Blanchard.

The city council could vote on an agreement as early as next week.