As Sound Transit continues construction of the Northgate extension and the other extensions to light rail lines set to open in 2021, the agency is preparing to figure out what the areas around its stations should look like.
If residents who responded to a Sound Transit survey have their way, the area around Roosevelt Station could see more restaurants, grocers, retailers and childcare services.
Sound Transit officials expect that, with the opening of light rail stations, the flow of people will drive need for high-density apartments, retail and office space to the areas around rail stops.
In the Roosevelt neighborhood, where an elevated station will link the University District and Northgate stations set to open the same year, three locations are identified for such “transit-oriented development.”
“It’s just new term for a very familiar concept,” said Thatcher Imboden, Sound Transit’s senior analyst for transit-oriented development. “It’s about land use and, specifically, it’s about land use near high-frequency transit.”
That mainly means ensuring the walkability of areas around public transit stations—making sure people who have abandoned cars in favor of public transit can still easily access basic services. That work mainly amounts to zoning revisions in the locations of the U District and Northgate stations, which are already reasonably walkable—Northgate, at least, is the site of a transit park-and-ride. But in areas like Roosevelt, where nearby commercial centers are buffered by an immediate neighborhood of single-family residences, Imboden and other Sound Transit officials are tasked with inserting a certain measure of walkability that does not yet exist.
Roosevelt station will link the University District and Northgate stations once all three open in 2021. Tunnel excavation is set to begin late this month.
The surface entries to the station itself will be located on two city blocks adjacent to Roosevelt High School, along the west side of 12th Avenue Northeast, bounded by Northeast 65th and Northeast 67th streets to the south and north, respectively, and divided across the middle by Northeast 66th Street.
Around the station are three parcels identified for transit-oriented development. The largest parcel is west of the north entrance to the station, bounded by 67th and 66th streets. Smaller parcels are located on the northwest corner of 67th Street and 12th Avenue, and nestled west of the south entrance to the station.
Sound Transit officials are preparing to put out a request for proposals from developers. The transit-oriented development parcels will be leased or sold to qualifying developers to create the establishments generally desired by the public.
Sound Transit is in the process of wrapping up public comment on development around Roosevelt Station. The agency collected 583 responses to a public survey on the subject from Jan. 12 to Jan. 24, and held a workshop at Calvary Christian Church Feb. 8.
Public input collected so far reveals a general portrait of what Roosevelt residents hope for in the development around Roosevelt Station.
As alluded to at the top of this article, the top desired developments were food and beverage establishments, preferred by 51.9 percent of survey respondents. Grocers were favored by 47.6 percent of respondents, general retailers by 41.1 percent and child care or preschool services by 39.9 percent.
But preferences for other services remained considerable. Nearly a quarter of respondents indicated their desire for buildings related to the arts, and more than one out of every seven respondents expressed want for a gym or other fitness-based business.
The parcels Sound Transit can immediately influence through land sales is limited. But Jay Lazerwitz, an architect and officer of the Roosevelt Neighborhood Association, said he hoped the public process would result in a place generally pleasing to residents and visitors.
‘We can’t ask for everything on the site,” Lazerwitz said at a Jan. 12 open house. “But we can ask for some of the things that are important to us.”
Some residents are concerned about the potential for human traffic from the station to strain local infrastructure. Dr. Jennifer Huff, an anthropologist who made her home in Roosevelt while completing her doctorate at the University of Washington, said she supports Seattle light rail, but worries about incoming families overwhelming the enrollment of area schools, in light of Seattle Public Schools’ expected budget shortfalls.
“I just wonder, if we bring in a couple hundred more kids to live in affordable housing [if affordable housing develops around the station], will it turn out to be an unfunded mandate for Seattle Public Schools?” Huff said.
A final workshop for development around Roosevelt Station will be held at Calvary Christian Church, located at 6801 Roosevelt Way Northeast, at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 22.
Sound Transit plans to present the results of all public comment at a March 9 open house, details to be determined.