Sunset Area (Renton Highlands)
Since the late 1990’s the City has focused on the Renton Highlands as an area targeted for improvement and investment. A variety of ideas and plans have emerged. At the present time, efforts at revitalization in the Highlands have built upon the work done by two task forces.
Highlands Task Force on Zoning
As part of a strategy to revitalize the Renton Highlands, the City initiated a major work program evaluating the comprehensive plan and zoning in the Highlands sub-area during 2005 and 2006. The City's goal was to stimulate private investment that will create a more viable residential and business district, provide additional housing options, improve and upgrade neighborhood infrastructure, and diversify the employment and business tax base. In the first half of 2006 the City proposed a set of zoning amendments to stimulate redevelopment in the area. After extensive Planning Commission and public review, the original zoning proposal was withdrawn and a new proposal drafted in response to community concerns. In Fall of 2006, the Highlands Task Force on Land Use and Zoning was convened to review the new proposal. After citizen, environmental, and Council review processes were completed, the Task Force's recommendation was adopted in May 2007. The land use and zoning changes were intended to stimulate revitalization of one of Renton's older commercial and residential areas into a community with compact urban development featuring a mix of residential and commercial uses, a range of housing types, innovative design, transit orientation, pedestrian scale amenities and a community focal point.
Highlands Phase II Task Force
The City of Renton formed a second Highlands Task Force in late 2007 to help the City identify, prioritize, and make recommendations about the next steps needed to implement the adopted vision for the Center Village in the Highlands area. Members of the Phase II Task Force explored ideas about how to implement the land use vision endorsed by the first task force and how to improve quality of life in the area. After over a year of intense study and discussion and a public meeting, the Task Force produced a report with two dozen recommendations for City actions in the Highlands. These recommendations were presented to City Council in December 2008 and included everything from specific code changes to a number of big ideas. In early 2009, Council adopted this document by resolution and asked the administration to draw up a work program to begin implementing the work of the Phase II Task Force.
Sunset Community Investment Strategy
Several Highlands Phase II Task Force recommendations involved the initiation of new improvements to the Highlands area. Recommendations included creating a “third place” or public gathering space, initiating pedestrian and streetscape improvements, advocating for boulevard improvements for Sunset Boulevard, and the development of a sub-regional storm water drainage facility. Any one of these projects requires a significant public investment. The Sunset Community Investment Strategy provided an assessment of the feasibility and funding for these recommendations. Outreach included community stakeholders such as the Renton Housing Authority, the Renton School District, local business owners, and the general public. Council reviewed the final report and adopted the recommendations for community investment on November 23, 2009. The Final Report and Appendices can be found below:
The City is continuing to work on the recommendations in the Community Investment Strategy including plans for a new library, construction of community gardens, and further planning for public and private investment.