“Different views on that issue”

20110526-083951.jpgMost of the conversation at tonight’s meeting on the Roosevelt Station to be built by Sound Transit revolved around the impacts of construction on the neighborhood and the effects of the functioning station on things like parking and traffic. But another serious issue emerged: why is Sound Transit proposing a station that puts a hole right in the middle of the business district? The proposed station doesn’t have any proposed secondary use on top of it, and some neighbors are incensed.

The fact is that incorporating stations into development is doable. Sound Transit is already proposing it at the Brooklyn Station in the University District.

It’s also desirable. As one neighbor pointed out, the boxy design leaves “prime real estate” under used, with only the station use. Everyone talks about the station being a 100 year decision, one we’ll all have to live with for a long time. So then why leave a hole in the donut of transit oriented density?

Sound Transit’s facilitator handled the questions politely, and said that there are “different views on that issue.” It is true that residents and the property owner adjacent to the station’s south entrance voiced concerns about impact on them.

But the question remains. Why having 65 feet of capacity over a cut and cover station rather than building a harder lid to accommodate more housing wasn’t addressed.

Could it be cost? Maybe risk? Possibly, but the agency could get some or all of that extra cash they spend on a harder lid for the station when they sell the improved, developable air space above the station.

The point is, building on the station is feasible and maybe even affordable. Furthermore, if there isn’t agreement and action on other rezones–especially east of the station–building on top of the station ensures real TOD for years to come.


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4 Responses to “Different views on that issue”

  1. Gern Blanston says:

    That’s funny, I only heard two questions asked during the Q&A period at last night’s meeting that wanted to see more development above the station entrances. Makes sense that after you make room for all the mechanical elements, development above the box doesn’t really pencil out since the zoning only allows for 65′ along that area. Which is very different from the current and planned zoning for Brooklyn.

    I’m sure you’re aware of those differences as spelled out in detail in the City’s comp plan. But that wouldn’t be as useful for your argument as it is picking out one comment and posting a picture of an empty room when in fact more than 100 interested neighbors actually showed up and had good questions.

    Page 7 of this document shows handy map of where density will be concentrated in north Seattle under the City’s comp plan. Get over it. Roosevelt won’t be like Belltown or even the U-District.

  2. Chris Stefan says:

    It seems to me that it would be a good idea to upzone the two blocks with station entrances a bit, say to the level of Brooklyn or Capitol Hill. At least to the level that development on top of the station entrances “pencils out”.

  3. Matt the Engineer says:

    Why wouldn’t it pencil out even at 65′? Mechanical equipment probably means fans and elevator equipment. That surely can be designed to take less than a floor’s worth of space. What are we doing with the other 55′? Yes, we definately need more zoned height, but if we aren’t getting it we should at least use all that we are getting.

  4. a r-e says:

    a couple things to add:

    this neighborhood has been proactive all along –with little or no help from the city or sound transit– and worked up their own station-area-planning effort because they didn’t want to see it happen in a piecemeal, contract-rezone, unplanned and haphazard manner. why Sound Transit spends billions on light rail, but doesn’t facilitate station area planning efforts well in advance of station/light rail developments is mystifying. thorough “smart-growth” planning efforts YEARS ahead of time (like at least 10) is needed if Sound Transit and the region wants to be successful in the near-term future of the next few decades……

    wordpress previouly posted a re-cap of the neighborhood-lead efforts to get out in front of the light rail development. see:

    with a number of people howling that the neighborhood-endorsed plan of upzones aren’t big enough, I think its worth considering how many areas of Seattle fight all developments….. here is a neighborhood that fought for the light rail alignment to be moved INTO the center of their community; and then took it upon themselves to organize the public process and created a consensus plan of upzoning the center of their neighborhood. Neither DPD, nor the mayor’s office, nor the city council, nor sound transit was thinking this far ahead and even considering this 5 years ago, and the community –on their own– started pushing for growth.
    consider how (unfortunately) rare this is…… its a bloody shame that some of the gang who’ve now come late to the issue are labling the neighborhood as “NIMBY”. this is a neighborhood that not only never said “Not In My Backyard” — but actually ran a campaign which stated “Yes In My Front Yard”!
    Roosevelt WANTS growth, but recognized early the importance of Smart Growth — not just blindly demanding that everything within a certain distance of the station be zoned up the maximum amount……

    The biggest current issue which everyone should rally behind is demanding that the Roosevelt Station be designed for complete and integrated over-build. Much of the discussion bouncing around online and in meeting concerns whether certain city blocks should be upzoned to 40′, or 65′. A much bigger difference –many more units of housing creating much greater density– could be realized if the station were designed with a full build-out of housing above. Apparently the Brooklyn Station is being designed to incorporate developement above.
    The Roosevelt Station’s current design, as presented by Sound Transit at the recent Roosevelt Open House shows a footprint of some 60,000 sq feet — in an area zoned for 65′ mixed-use developement — with no developement at all! Just a huge, over-tall, one story lobby with nothing but empty (density-wasting) air space above it!

    All fans of smart-growth and higher-density planning should take as a top priority calling for Sound Transit to design the Roosevelt and Northgate stations to be designed and constructed with full-height, max-density “overbuild”. The design of these stations is currently still in the early, conceptual stages. Now is the time to change these plans, because once these stations are constructed it will be nearly impossible to build anything above them in the future.

    by-the-way, if you think about it, I would think a strategic alliance on this issue could be made between the progressive density hawks and the conservative financial-hawks: an overbuild of the Northlink Stations would allow for greater density right at the transit stations –&– an station overbuild’s commercial development would provide Sound Transit a good source of financial return to help defray the cost of the transit system, and provide a strong boost to ridership.

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