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Station Area Planning 1998-2001

This website provides a comprehensive record of accomplishments resulting from the Station Area Planning Program, a three-year effort led by the Strategic Planning Office in partnership with Sound Transit. With support from Sound Transit, Station Area Planning engaged city departments, community representatives and partner agencies in planning and development work for the mile around proposed light rail stations. The Station Area Planning Program refined the community's vision, initially articulated in neighborhood plans, for each station area and has already begun to implement some of the actions necessary to make these visions a reality.

Station Area Planning benefited from countless hours of volunteer community effort and staff work. We are happy to make these materials available for community stakeholders, City staff and our partner agencies to use. We believe that the accomplishments of Station Area Planning provide a clear vision for new development and transportation improvements for Seattle's neighborhoods.

A Framework for Action

Starting in 1998, the City of Seattle led an effort to articulate a vision and framework for future development around each of the proposed Sound Transit light rail stations. Station Area Planning (SAP) focused on the areas within a quarter mile of the stations proposed in Sound Transit's 1999 adopted alignment, and identified key public and private investments as well as City actions to achieve City and Community goals.

Following Through on Neighborhood Plans

Following the adoption of Seattle's Comprehensive Plan in 1994, thirty-eight Seattle neighborhoods developed twenty-year plans for the future of their communities. SAP built on this effort to ensure that investments in light rail would move neighborhood plan visions forward. Starting in 1999, City staff convened Station Area Advisory Committees (SAACs) to involve citizens in station area planning and to engage in Sound Transit's design process.

Guiding Direction

The station area planning team identified policy choices that will guide the direction of future land use decisions in station areas. The Seattle City Council adopted 10 Station Area Concept-Level Recommendation packages in September 2000. The concept packages were based on neighborhood plan visions for each station area and included future actions to achieve the visions.

City Council passed the Station Area Overlay legislation in July 2001. This legislation establishes Station Area Overlay Districts and rezones around eight future light rail stations. These actions support Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) and forward neighborhood goals for walkable town centers. The Station Area Overlay District provides flexibility for existing businesses, new development and prohibits certain auto-oriented land uses near the stations.

On Beacon Hill, the station will strengthen the existing business district, support opportunities for new homes, and add open space and public art to the neighborhood. Land use actions to implement this concept included rezoning some parcels adjacent to the business district to allow neighborhood-scale shops with housing above.

The MLK@Holly neighborhood plan established a vision for a mixed-use town center at the light rail station. To create a realistic blueprint that balances the interests of property owners with community desires, the SAP team developed land use code changes to support long-term town center development.

A Strategy for Development

A successful SAP Program must with work economic facts. Station area planning staff commissioned a range of market assessments to provide real-world information upon which to structure future development scenarios. For example, market analysis indicated that the McClellan station area is the strongest location in the Rainier Valley for new housing and commercial development. The neighborhood's vision of the McClellan station area as a vital mixed-use town center is well supported by this market analysis. Using this information, the station area planning team worked with community stakeholders and a team of design and economic professionals to craft a "town center design and development strategy" responsive to the neighborhood's market strength. This information will also be important to investors, and may identify uses for the $50 million Southeast Seattle TOD Community Development Fund.

In Touch with Communities

The SAP team completed a successful community outreach program. The cornerstone of this program was the Station Area Advisory Committees (SAACs) established in each station area. The advisory committees helped outline the contents of the Station Area Concept-Level Recommendations, reviewed by Sound Transit's light rail design, participated in a series of design workshops, and ensured that neighborhood plan objectives were addressed. The SAP program also co-sponsored three regional TOD forums in partnership with King County, Sound Transit, and the Puget Sound Regional council (PSRC).

New Stations, New Projects

The SAP team played a significant role in directing Sound Transit's early design. At the Othello and Edmunds station areas, design and development coordination was critical and complex due to the redevelopment of Seattle Housing Authority's (SHA) NewHolly and Rainier Vista residential communities. The SAP team led City staff participation in the design process and coordinated regulatory and public outreach activities to ensure compatibility among Sound Transit and SHA projects, avoid redundancies, and make the best use of public investments. SAP staff also led the City's participation to optimize Sound Transit's design of pedestrian and and bicycle improvements on streets in all station areas. SAP staff is leading a street design study to determine if a roundabout will improve traffic, pedestrian, and bicycle connections and create a gateway to the McClellan town center. The SAP team initiated master planning for the Roosevelt station area, including a $70 million renovation of Roosevelt High School.

Coordinated Design

A large part of the SAP effort involved design coordination. The team worked with Sound Transit staff, other city staff and the SAACs on emerging light rail design issues, and to coordinate Sound Transit's project designs with planned or ongoing development and public works projects in neighborhoods.

The most significant station area design coordination project in the downtown is the Convention Place Station project: a partnership among King County/Metro, City of Seattle, and Sound Transit to redevelop a major transit center into a bus layover facility below grade with a high-rise mixed use development above. This project has the potential to meet many goals of the City and community members who live and work in the Westlake/Convention Place station area.

The SAP team participated in numerous regional events, such as the Northgate community workshop, which involved multiple agencies (King County, Washington State DOT, Sound Transit, City of Seattle), along with community members, developers and design professionals. The workshops resulted in concepts on how to maximize planned public and private investments to create a vibrant, mixed-use urban center at Northgate.

Oriented Towards Development

The SAP Team worked with neighborhoods and Sound Transit to establish City and Sound Transit policies for transit oriented development. This work includes TOD as a strategy to develop receiving sites for businesses impacted by Sound Transit construction.

The First Hill community is engaged in discussions about development adjacent to proposed First Hill station. City staff identified sites, commissioned feasibility studies, initiated conceptual design, and led the community participation effort to ensure that a light rail station on First Hill would contribute to a vibrant, walkable center of the neighborhood with new housing, retail, and open space.

Council Acts on the Vision

The Seattle City Council adopted the Station Area Overlay Districts and Rezones in July 2001. This action brings Seattle's Station Area Planning process to a successful close, three years after its inception. During this time, the Station Area Planning Team moved forward a number of actions to encourage transit-oriented development in station areas. City Council passed the following pieces of legislation related to Station Area Planning:

Interlocal Agreement between the City and Sound Transit, Ordinance No. 118927 (3/98)

Framework Goals and Objectives for Station Area Planning, Resolution No. 29867 (12/98)

Interim Station Area Overlay, Ordinance No. 119394 (3/99, et seq.)

Concept-level Recommendations for each station area, Resolution No. 30165 (9/00)

Station Area Overlay and Rezones, Ordinance No. 1204530120460 (7/01)

Related Links

Sound Transit - Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority
Transit Station Communities Project - Puget Sound Regional Council
King County Transit-Oriented Development

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