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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 became attractive to younger people and to families with children. At the same time, the job market has changed, but job growth has not kept up with the population growth.

We are partnering with the community on a coordinated and strategic planning effort to address these changes and help create a vision that will shape growth and guide new development in Ballard.

We have been working with neighborhood groups and non-profits, organized as the Ballard Partnership for Smart Growth, to develop an Urban Design Framework (UDF). Our UDF will establish the desired design qualities and examine how development regulations can better shape growth for the central Ballard area.

At a public meeting last Spring, the community expressed their views on the character of growth in the Ballard core. Since then, we have been working with the Ballard Partnership’s Urban Design and Transportation Committee to define responses to the community input on this central issue. 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. On November 6 we held a public meeting to present the initial strategies to better guide development, addressing the bulk and character of development, streetscape design, and public/private open space.

If you were unable to make the meeting and would like to receive a questionnaire, or simply want to stay up-to-date on this process, sign up for our email list in the sidebar. Visit our Project Documents page to learn more about the Urban Design and Transportation Committee and to see the public comments from the last open house.

Existing Conditions Report Now Available

Our first product is an Existing Conditions Report that 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 will focus 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 will pay 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.

Our collaborative planning effort will address four central issues:

  • Connections: Seattle’s Transit Master Plan establishes a framework for significant and necessary transit investments. By mid-2014, Sound Transit and the Seattle Department of Transportation will have completed their study of possible high-capacity transit improvements between Ballard and downtown Seattle. These improvements could attract more businesses, jobs, and residents to Ballard.
  • Economic Opportunity: The local business community, neighborhood groups, and non-profits have mobilized to form a Ballard Partnership for Smart Growth with the mission to encourage investment and identify strategies to augment Ballard’s commercial core.
  • Character: Private development in the Urban Village is booming with a number of high-density residential projects being built in the area and more in the pipeline for decades to come.
  • Health: The primary goal of this collaboration is to foster an environment that supports the health and access to economic opportunity for the community.

We are supporting and coordinating two other important efforts in the neighborhood — the Ballard to Downtown Seattle Transit Expansion Study and the Ballard Partnership for Smart Growth.

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

Our existing conditions and trends analysis will provide the background against which we will engage with the community, stakeholders, and other agencies on various planning-related issues.

The End Result

The end result of this effort will be an Urban Design Framework (UDF) that defines 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 document establishes the basis for resulting City legislation to amend the Land Use Code. The UDF will also include an assessment of each potential high-capacity transit station being considered in the Ballard Transit Expansion Study.

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