[ “Othello South” rendering by Ruffcorn Mott Hinthorne Stine ]

This widget rocks — the Seattle Times is all over the future of TOD (transit-oriented development) along the Martin Luther King light rail corridor.

“Over the past year private, for-profit developers have proposed more than 1,500 condo and apartment units within a 10-minute walk of a rail station.”

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.

(Also note a few more apartments to add to my list, including 400 units in Harbor Properties’ St. Gobain project in Columbia City, and 730 units in Othello Partners’ two buildings at the Othello Station.)

7 Responses to “TOD on MLK”

  1. Adam

    Are any of the station area overlays in effect yet? I would hope that would increase the height or FAR allowed.

  2. Dan Staley

    Aurora, CO has different street standards, too, in its TOD zones. Context-sensitive design.

  3. Cow

    TransLink (in Vancouver) just announced that the next SkyTrain line–being built further out into the suburbs and connecting with one of the current lines–will be funded, in large part, by selling the land next to the line to developers.

    TOD works really well here; if you’re riding SkyTrain, you can see where stations are by watching for clusters of skyscrapers surrounded by single-family homes. (It’s evening out a bit more over time, but a lot of this is still fairly new.) I’m excited to see it coming to Seattle, and I too wish the height limits would be raised for this.

  4. michael

    again, no vision from the City. Hate to be a negative nanny, but the City’s inability to put all the necessary planning and design pieces together to ensure high quality, dense development has again been demonstrated in its station area planning.

  5. Cale

    Cow @ #3

    I most definitely prefer 6-story for neighborhoods outside of downtown. This more human scale style of building has worked for centuries in Europe and I think it works especially well in these predominantly residential neighborhoods. I’d rather see more 6 story buildings spread out over a larger area than just a few towers casting shadows and looming over everything.

    Downtowns on the other hand…

    Actually, there is one station in particular where I think height would be good,and that is the Mt. Baker station where a bunch of strip malls currently stand. The area is isolated enough from the single families to the east and west, and close enough to downtown that a much taller height would feel right there. Especially right around McCellan and Rainier.

  6. Paul Krugman Joins Team Density | hugeasscity

    […] Krugman’s description of the Berlin neighborhood consisting mainly of four and five story apartments further congeals a thought that’s been knocking around my head lately: that ultimately the sustainable urban form of the future will be midrise. In this spicy essay on localism, James Howard Kunstler quips that “skyscrapers are an endangered species,” basically because they are too energy intensive. Midrise (4 to 6 stories) is relatively cheap to build, doesn’t necessarily need elevators, has an agreeable urban form, and can achieve high density (if there are enough of them). Maybe I should shut up about upzoning for taller buildings… […]

  7. What Does TOD Look Like? | hugeasscity

    […] The critical factor: zoning. The maximum building height in the Columbia City station area is only 40 feet (four stories). From the zoning map (pdf), I’d guesstimate that at least half of the property in the station area is zoned lowrise or single family. This low-density zoning cripples the TOD opportunity. And the situation at the other four Southeast Seattle stations is similar, though 65 feet is allowed in some cases. […]

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