Skip to main content

Originally published August 27, 2014 at 9:14 PM | Page modified August 27, 2014 at 10:31 PM

  • Share:
  • Comments
  • Print

Court ruling a blow to plans for Kirkland waterfront project

A developer will have to build fewer than half of the units he initially planned for a Kirkland apartment complex, after a ruling by a state appeals court panel. Plans for the property have touched off a yearslong density debate in the city.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Reader Comments
Hide / Show comments
@ddraig No one is forcing anyone to live in high density housing. You have the choice to live wherever you want. MORE
@ddraig Some out there are figuring out that jamming our population into tighter and tighter spaces isn't exactly how... MORE
@ddraig The lesson is that everyone wants everyone else to do what is best for the environment. Higher density is good... MORE


An apartment project proposed for the Kirkland waterfront by a Tibetan monk-turned-developer must include fewer than half of the units initially proposed, after a ruling this week by the state Court of Appeals.

The decision by the three-judge panel reverses an earlier ruling that allowed Lobsang Dargey to build Potala Village, according to Kirkland zoning standards in place when the shoreline-development permit was submitted in February 2011. At the time, there was no limit on how many apartment units could be built within a structure in a neighborhood business zone. In addition to 143 apartment or condo units, initial plans for the four-story building included 316 underground parking spaces and 6,200 square feet for retail on the first floor.

The decision comes as several cities in the area are debating how to handle dense, residential developments, many of which include even tighter quarters than the proposed Potala Village.

City policies for Dargey’s Kirkland property were confusing when shoreline permits were first submitted. While the comprehensive city plan suggested a store or small mixed-use project, the shoreline master plan envisioned high-density mixed uses.

It was not known Wednesday whether Dargey would appeal.

“We’re disappointed in the decision that was made and are currently evaluating our options as we move forward,” said Matt Haba, real-estate development director at Path America, a company Dargey owns.

Hundreds of Kirkland residents complained about the size of the project and extra traffic that would pour onto Lake Washington Boulevard Northeast.

The Kirkland City Council did not ignore them. In November 2011, the council approved a moratorium on development in neighborhood business zones. In 2012, the council passed more restrictive standards that now allow only 48 units per acre.

City of Kirkland attorneys argued that because Dargey had not applied for a building permit before the zoning standards changed, the complex should be subject to current zoning. Dargey will now be allowed to build up to 59 units for Potala Village unless he appeals the decision and wins.

Potala Village crews are not authorized to conduct any construction activity on the property until new building permits are submitted and approved, said Kirkland City Manager Kurt Triplett.

Previous structures on the property Dargey bought have been leveled. The only other work that crews have done on the site so far is removing contaminated soil left behind by a gas station that once operated on the property.

Triplett said that when Potala Village permit applications were submitted to the city, Dargey had already reduced the number of units to 88 and retail space to 4,802 square feet, but the public outcry continued. Triplett said traffic studies showed that Potala Village would not have had a significant impact on Lake Washington Boulevard Northeast and that the underground parking provided more than enough spaces for those living in the building.

“I think the traffic concerns were probably overblown, but it’s hard to know what would have happened,” said Triplett. “Another one of the main concerns people had were the size and scale of the building, but that’s not going to be changing much.”

Alexa Vaughn: 206-464-2515 or On Twitter @AlexaVaughn.

Four weeks for 99 cents of unlimited digital access to The Seattle Times. Try it now!

Also in Local News

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon

Time to add another piece to your Hawks collection

Time to add another piece to your Hawks collection

Check out the full lineup of championship merchandise from The Seattle Times store.


Partner Video


The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►