At its meeting on January 18, the Kirkland City Council unanimously adopted legislation that suspends transportation impact fees charged to a business when the use of an existing commercial building is changed. The temporary suspension applies city-wide and will be in effect until December 31, 2013. The Council’s goal for the suspension is to fill vacant storefronts and offices in Kirkland as the vacancy rate has risen to between 25 and 30 percent.
“Tenant improvement and other costs are substantial when moving into an existing space; impact fees were a significant deterrence to choosing Kirkland,” notes Ellen Miller- Wolfe, Economic Development Manager. “The City has now removed a major hurdle for new ventures to locate here.”
The Council’s action was prompted partly from a “Competitive Assessment” conducted in 2010 by Berk & Associates which recommended ways for Kirkland to remain competitive and reduce vacancy rates during recessionary times. One specific recommendation was to suspend transportation impact fees for changes in use that do not involve adding new square footage.
State law authorizes the collection of impact fees to help defray the costs of new transportation infrastructure. Currently the City collects impact fees on all new development including development/redevelopment of an existing structure from one use (e.g. furniture store) to another use (e.g. auto parts store). The temporary suspension does not affect the collection of impact fees for new development or the enlargement of existing buildings. The fee suspension, which automatically ends on December 31, 2013, will be reviewed when the City conducts an impact fee study in 2013.