Viking Avenue, a shell of its former Auto Row self, could get a new burst of life through design standards and developer incentives being considered by the Poulsbo City Council.
We believe the council is on the right track and that the design standards and developer incentives could spur lasting, diversified development of this significant thoroughfare and historic business district.
City planning staff members have developed design standards for Viking Avenue. Sketches show residences above retail shops and cafes; public plazas and open space; and outdoor seating along landscaped sidewalks – a classic, walkable urban neighborhood. It would provide more opportunities for residents to live near places where they work and shop, as well as public transportation and public parks. Among the incentives for developers to build to those design standards: Increased building height and lot coverage, reduced setbacks, and reduced number of required parking spaces.
Viking Avenue is prime for new development. The city has invested millions in street and lighting improvements. The thoroughfare is a gateway to the city and a connection to Silverdale and other points south. Within walking distance are significant cultural sites, such as Fish Park, Nelson Park, Martinson Cabin, and the County Road 59 walking trail. There are movie theaters, restaurants, various services, even a brewery and a church.
Developing design standards and incentives to spur development is consistent with the goals of the city’s Comprehensive Plan, which calls for “mixed-use to encourage proximity and diversity in living and working options and decrease transportation challenges,” “a mix of commercial land uses that serve the needs of the city residents, businesses and visitors, while providing an attractive commercial setting,” and residential development that “complements the built environment and the city’s neighborhoods, while we change and grow.”
The city should continue to keep Viking Avenue a priority and encourage investment there, through zoning and incentives and other means within its authority. Congratulations to city planning staff for a fine plan.