Rainier Vista

[ Looking north on MLK Blvd; Photo: Dan Bertolet ]

This doesn’t look like the Seattle that I know. But drive a couple minutes south down MLK Blvd from where it crosses Rainier Ave and this is what you’ll find: development that actually makes sense for the 21st Century.

The buildings are part of Rainier Vista, an affordable housing development that will eventually include 850 homes for a range of low-income levels, along with 250 to 350 market-rate homes. The Edmonds Light Rail Station is at the development’s doorstep.

[ Photo: Dan Bertolet ]

The buildings have been hatched from several different architect/developer teams, so there is a welcome diversity of styles. Color was encouraged, so as to avoid the relatively monotone look of New Holley, another Seattle Housing Authority development further south on MLK Blvd.

[ Photo: Dan Bertolet ]

Rainier Vista has many key pieces of the sustainability puzzle: density, open space, diversity, affordability, and transit. What’s missing are cutting-edge energy and water strategies. And real density. If this site was in Vancouver BC it would have 20-story towers.

11 Responses to “Rainier Vista”

  1. Adam

    I just wanted to say hi and thanks. I just found your blog today and I know that I’m really going to enjoy reading it.

    P.S. I agree with your last point. Sometimes I think we are shooting ourselves in the foot by not allowing enough density in the places that it really needs to go. The areas within 1/10 of a mile to LINK stations should have height limits that allow for at least 15 story buildings if not higher, and tapering off after that. I know that neighborhoods would oppose this but these types of density immediately around the stations are needed to make LINK pay off.

  2. Martin

    Unfortunately, there won’t be 15 story buildings, but the some of the very closest real estate to the light rail station is being reserved for multi-story, market rate condos. Rainier Vista isn’t far from the station, but not as close as it could be.

  3. Andrew


    Check this out

  4. croydonfacelift

    Martin–if Rainier Vista was any closer to the light rail station at Edmunds, it would be sitting on top of it. Not sure where you’re getting your info, but there are only two large condo projects (and still not many small ones) anywhere near the station, and none of them closer to it than Rainier Vista.

  5. The hugeasscity blog - asking how can Seattle claim to be a sustainable city with so much ‘empty-calorie’ development. — Smarter Neighbors

    […] Anyway, that’s why I really like the hugeasscity blog. They’ve got this skill and they don’t abuse it. In addition to pointing out the medicore creampuffs, they also talk about what works and what is needed to help us become the sustainable city we keep telling ourselves we are. […]

  6. TOD on MLK | hugeasscity

    […] This is why light rail is worth the financial hit — it’s a catalyst for focussed development. It’s unfortunate, however, that none of the proposed buildings exceeds six stories — that’s all the current zoning allows. And the new buildings at Rainier Vista top out at only four stories. Not that we need to go nuts with skyscrapers, but it would make sense for the City to permit something like 10 or 12 stories in certain well chosen locations around the light rail stations. The higher the density, the more dividends on the light rail investment. […]

  7. Yesler Terrace To Be Reborn | hugeasscity

    […] The Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) plans to follow the general model of redevelopment that was applied at Rainier Vista, New Holley, and High Point. All the existing low-income housing will be replaced, and for-sale housing will be added to create a higher density, mixed-income neighborhood. […]

  8. What Does TOD Look Like? | hugeasscity

    […] The aerial image above looks down on the property immediately to the north of the “Columbia City” Light Rail Station at MLK Blvd. and S. Alaska St. The buildings marked 2, 3, 5, 6, and 7 on the west side of MLK are part of the Rainier Vista low-income housing redevelopment, and were all built within the last four years. None of these buildings exceeds four stories. On the east side of MLK is a new Boys & Girls club currently under construction, and a 4-story mixed-use low-income housing project currently in the design phase. […]

  9. EeePC

    Collingwood Village is exactly the sort of TOD we should be avoiding. Toronto has some of the worst examples of this kind of development.

    Toronto Subway’s ‘yellow’ line runs in a u-shape, stopping frequently in the loop downtown and about once per mile as the two branches extend north. As a result you can easily tell where the stations are by looking down upon the city – they’re all marked by clusters of 20-30 story residential towers roughly a mile apart from each other. Go ahead and visit one of these distant stations. North York, York Mills, Yorkdale: all named similarly, which is appropriate considering their total lack of character. Just because they’re dense, transit oriented developments doesn’t make them pedestrian friendly or even remotely charming.

    Vancouver appears to have fallen into this lazy development trap and that’s what you want to emulate here in Seattle as well? I’m all for TOD, but not density just for density’s sake.

    The problem is, Vancouver’s SkyTrain and Link have long routes with large spaces between stations. This encourages developers to stuff as much housing to service the station as they can. A shorter line with many stations would be a much more intelligent means of creating dense development, see pretty much any European city as an example, but it just costs too much.

  10. Seo Services

    Love all the opinions expressed here! How is everyone? Love how everyone expresses whatr they feel :)

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