After devastating fire, a rebirth for Bothell's Main Street

BOTHELL, Wash. -- The city of Bothell will celebrate the reopening of its Main Street next week – a long-awaited reawakening that will bring life back to a neighborhood devastated by fire.

A decade in the making, the Main Street Redevelopment Project sought to improve the four-block stretch that is considered the historic heart of downtown Bothell.

“It was very important for us to get it right,” said Erin Leonhart, director of Bothell’s Public Works Department. “The public was saying, ‘we need a refresh on our Main Street.’”

Leonhart said the city sought input from the public and business owners on what improvements they wanted to see in the area, while still seeking to preserve the “Main Street” appeal.

“They said that they wanted to maintain the historic small-town charm – the appeal that makes people want to come to Main Street. But they thought there were some deficiencies in the gathering areas,” said Nduta Mbuthia, the project manager. “What we tried to do with the project is to create some open public spaces on the corners of the intersections and in the mid-block crossings.”

While the project was underway long before a blaze tore through more than a dozen downtown businesses in July 2016, it took on new significance in the aftermath of the fire.

Andrya Rytter, the owner of Level Seven Salon, moved into a new space on Main Street after her old salon was destroyed.

“Right after the fire all of us got together and all the girls, all the stylists, said they would stay with me if we reopened,” Rytter said. “We actually were so fortunate to be able to work temporarily at the other salons in the area. I feel like most of our staff only missed two days of work.”

Rytter said that as the community rallied around her salon and other businesses that were impacted, she felt it was important to reopen close by.

“All of our neighbors just took care of us. They opened their doors and took us in so we could keep our business going,” she said. “You can’t leave a neighborhood that’s that good to you.”

But even since reopening, Level Seven Salon and other businesses along Main Street have dealt with construction closures that have blocked their front doors and made it more challenging for customers to visit. While the city tried to mitigate the impacts, some residents avoided the area while the redevelopment project was in full swing.

“It’s been a pain. You could hardly drive or walk anywhere,” said Randy DeKlyen, who has lived in Bothell for 27 years. He said the reopening of Main Street will mean a great deal to the city.

Leonhart, the public works director, hopes the redesign will attract new visitors.

“Bothell has really come along,” she said. “We used to be a place where people would drive through to get somewhere else, but there are really things to come to now.”

The Main Street grand reopening is scheduled for Saturday, April 28, from 12:00pm to 3:00pm. There will be live music, activities for the kids, happy hours for adults, and deals at some of the shops.