Ballard Urban Design

Our planning effort will help Ballard address the changes it's had over the past 10 years.
Partnering with the community to identify a vision that will shape growth and guide new development in Ballard.

What’s Happening Now?

Over the past ten years, Ballard has seen significant changes from the “sleepy” neighborhood it once was. The area has become denser as it has attracted younger people and families with children. At the same time, the job market has changed, but job growth has not kept up with the population growth. The community has overwhelming appreciation for the ability to visit the great variety of shops and restaurants in a beautiful, walkable neighborhood. However, they are also concerned that a number of recent high-density projects being built in the area do not contribute to Ballard’s character.

In response to this and Sound Transit’s planning for light rail to Ballard, we are working with the Department of Transportation (SDOT), neighborhood groups, and non-profits, organized as the Ballard Partnership for Smart Growth, to develop an Urban Design Framework (UDF) and a multimodal transportation plan (Move Ballard). Together we will articulate a shared vision, and strategies that will guide future development and transportation investment while ensuring Ballard’s people and places thrive.

Review our proposed Ballard rezones and Land Use Code amendments (and accompanying Policy and Environmental Analysis)

This spring, we proposed rezones and code amendments for Ballard. We invite you to comment on the potential environmental impacts, or Determination of Non-Significance (DNS). Submit comments through April 21, 2016. After the DNS is issued, you may submit appeals of the decision to the Office of the Hearing Examiner by 5:00 p.m. on April 28, 2016. Find more information on the Project Documents page.

Review our Draft Land Use and Urban Design Recommendations

We completed a public review draft of the urban design, streetscape, and open space elements of the Urban Design and Transportation Framework at a public meeting in May 2015. This draft and its strategies were developed through three community workshops and monthly advisory committee meetings since the beginning of 2014. The strategies respond to the community's views on the character of growth in the Ballard core. When SDOT completes their multimodal transportation recommendations this fall, we will publish the final integrated plan.

Project Benefits

Sleepy Ballard is definitely awake. And while opinions about recent changes range from cheers to dismay, most in the community see the need to get ahead of the curve. Our coordinated and comprehensive planning effort will help ensure changes have a positive impact on the neighborhood, including:

  • Better and more affordable housing
  • Better access to transit and jobs
  • Open spaces for recreation
  • Safer streets
  • An urban environment that is respectful to Ballard’s heritage

The Existing Conditions Report documents the area’s existing conditions and trends. We have found that most of the changes are in the commercial and multifamily areas in the Ballard Urban Village. Additional changes can be expected when Sound Transit builds a planned light rail station. Therefore, we are focusing our planning effort on the Ballard Urban Village and areas within a ten-minute walk of Sound Transit’s potential locations for a rail station. We are paying particular attention to mobility and access and to the character, form, and location of future development within the Urban Village. We will also identify opportunities to make sure people have access to economic opportunity and the amenities for a healthy life. 

The End Result

Our Urban Design Framework (UDF) will define the urban design recommendations, including streetscape design, land use regulations, and design guidelines that will guide future development while ensuring Ballard’s people and places can thrive. The UDF establishes the basis for resulting City legislation to amend the Land Use Code, and will include an assessment of each potential high-capacity transit station being considered in the Ballard Transit Expansion Study.

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