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A better Broadway may be on horizon in Everett

EVERETT — Sharita Burton has a vision for the Broadway corridor in North Everett.
“I see it as a beautiful strip of land,” similar to downtown Snohomish, with “pockets of lovely little shops, cafes” and other thriving businesses, she said.
In her thinking, a future Broadway might also resemble the University District in Seattle.
Burton, a community advocate and founder of A Better Broadway Association, lives in the Delta Neighborhood east of Broadway and believes the area can be more prosperous and “user-friendly.”
“We have a lot of growth coming” to Everett, Burton said, and she wants to motivate others to help revitalize this part of the city. “There’s so much opportunity here,” she said.
Local officials agree.
While no formal planning study of the north Broadway corridor is underway, the district was called out as an “area of focus” by Mayor Cassie Franklin in her recent directive on community planning and economic development, said city spokeswoman Meghan Pembroke in an email.
The “Broadway/College District” was included in a section of the directive, which called for the development of “strategic plans for business growth and expansion for key corridors/districts” with staff reports due Feb. 1, 2019.


Kaitlyn Price photo

Looking up North Broadway at Everett Community College.


Growth alone could reshape Broadway.
The Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) estimates Everett may grow by an average of more than 3,200 people per year between now and 2035, Pembroke said. Because of the small amount of vacant land available, most future housing growth will happen through redeveloping existing areas, including arterial corridors such as Broadway.
“We expect that more than 90 percent of our future housing development will be multi-family,” Pembroke said.
According to Burton, traffic congestion and having not enough parking, restaurants or retail stores are the biggest problems on the north Broadway corridor, which includes WSU and Everett Community College (EvCC).
And it has a bit of an image problem.  
“We need businesses that support our student demographic” and the surrounding community, she said. “There’s no place to buy a pair of socks.”
Pat Sisneros, vice president of college services for EvCC, agreed the area is short on retail stores and that students have to travel to Marysville or the Everett Mall to do brick-and-mortar shopping. Many of them shop online.
“We’d be supportive of more options for students here,” Sisneros said.
While conducting a tour of the campus, which lies on the west side of Broadway, Sisneros talked about the many improvements EvCC has made in the north end in the last 10 years and how more are planned. He cited the college’s purchase, demolition, and site development of several nearby motels — formerly known for drug deals and prostitution. In place of the a motel near 10th and Broadway, for instance, the gleaming Liberty Hall now stands as a classroom and clinic building. Another area is used for much-needed parking space.  
EvCC, Washington State University (WSU) and Providence Regional Medical Center have been “a big part of the re-development of north Broadway,” Sisernos said, and his college is proud of its many new buildings and beautification projects accomplished largely through state grants obtained between 2007 and 2013.
 “This place didn’t look like this 10 years ago,” he said.
Sisneros noted that a 2009 land swap/purchase agreement between EvCC and Providence resulted in the college acquiring 17 acres on the east side of Broadway that now includes the new WSU-Everett building and various businesses. Eventually, the entire parcel will be developed, he said, and “that will really change the face of north Broadway.”
Everyone agrees transportation congestion in the north end is a problem, and both college and city officials want more people using public transportation. (Pembroke said about 21,000 vehicles travel along the Broadway corridor daily.) Sisernos pointed to the on-campus transit center and reduced bus fares that help make transit use easier for EvCC students.
Everett Transit is conducting a “bus bulb” project, between 34th and 7th streets that it hopes will cut down on collisions and “mirror strikes” to city buses.
Busses sometimes get clipped by large vehicles trying to squeeze by when the buses are entering or exiting the parking lane to pick up passengers. Seventy percent of “mirror strikes” occur on Broadway between Everett Avenue and Tower Street at EvCC, Pembroke said.
A bus bulb is an extended concrete pad in the parking lane, that creates a platform for a shelter, bike rack and trash receptacle. The bus stops on the road lane versus parking along the shoulder. Increased lighting and artwork also are planned for bus bulbs for enhanced visibility and safety.
Burton is hopeful that EvCC and other nearby “anchor institutions” will join her efforts to “encourage concerted development.”
“They all have a vested interest in how (this) community grows up,” she said.

 

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