City Hall

Transit-Oriented Development at Mt. Baker and Nationwide

By Erica C. Barnett March 23, 2011

On April 1, four finalists in a nationwide competition to come up with proposals to design, finance, and build on properties around Seattleā€™s Mount Baker light rail station will present their recommendations at City Hall. The competitors---of which there were more than 150---were asked to pretend they were advising property owners around the station about how they would build projects around the station in the context of zoning, affordable housing, affordable retail, open space, finance costs, economic conditions, and neighborhood concerns.

Currently, the Mount Baker station area includes the largest concentration of surface parking spaces in Southeast Seattle, and is surrounded on all sides by single-family neighborhoods. Transit-oriented development calls for more density (and less car-centric development) near light-rail hubs.

You can read up on all four proposal s (personally, I'm partial to the Pilot Point proposal, which would include traffic calming on Rainier Ave. S, a new cinema, a UW satellite, and lots of small retail) here.

In related news: a new study of transit-oriented development finds that transit lines spur tremendous amounts of new residential and commercial development. The only major exceptions are transit lines that run along or near highways, where auto-oriented transportation patterns "limit... the amount of land that is truly transit-accessible ... encourage ... driving and necessitate ... the provision of a large amount of parking, which limits both development density and the potential for a vibrant pedestrian-scaled environment."
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