Coming To Othello Station: The Future

[ Rendering of Othello Partners’ two proposed mixed-use projects, looking east on S. Othello St across MLK Jr. Blvd. ]

Though all we know for sure is that the part of the future that runs on rails is coming tomorrow.  Hopefully the buildings in the rendering above will materialize someday too.

Othello Partners recently announced that they would break ground on The Station at Othello Park—the building on the right side of the image—in early July, but it looks like the the train opening is going to just barely beat them to the punch.   The project is a big one, 420,000 total square feet, with 350 rental apartments and 40,000 square feet of retail.   Key to the feasibility of the project was the City’s Multifamily Tax Exemption program.

The building in the left side of the rendering is Othello Partners’ follow-on mixed-use project with 342 apartments and 18,000 square feet of retail.  The project recently passed through Seattle’s Design Review process, but the start date is contingent on the future economic climate. 

Together the two Othello projects will put about 700 new units of housing at the station.  That translates to 1000 or more new people living in the station area.  That is awesome.  Transformative.  And there is big potentail for more development on the other side of MLK—see image here—although Safeway recently decided to hold on to their property and renovate the store.

Are the Othello Partners projects too big?  Like Thornton Place, they are not perfect.  For one thing, it would be great if they didn’t have so much on-site structured parking.  But without that amount parking, no bank would have come on board.  And yes, urban form tends to be richer when buildings are small scale, as well as diverse in style and age.  But that ideal must be balanced with the realities of economics and context.  All in all, the Othello projects are exactly what we need to get catalytic TOD on the ground and start reaping the benefits of our investment in light rail.

Here’s what the view shown in the rendering above looked like a year or two ago: 


Here’s a plan view of both Othello Partners projects:


Here’s what it looked like a couple of years ago:

15 Responses to “Coming To Othello Station: The Future”

  1. JoshMahar

    I really like that little plaza street end.

    I agree, this project is perhaps a little out of scale and certainly imperfect but the key is that it can be catalytic. Hopefully smaller more progressive projects will start sprouting up all around this thing. Also, although the parking garage is ridiculous, maybe it will have a silver lining. If the garage gets far less use then people thought then maybe they can use it as a public garage, allowing other buildings near it to skip parking altogether. But maybe that’s just an urbanist’s dream…

  2. bitethemailman

    I really do like the plan, even if its indeed a little too big on paper. But look beyond the housing for a minute — check out that little dead-end stub of 42nd Ave S: that’s a potential development GOLD MINE. The image above doesn’t show the next intersection north, in this case, S Myrtle and 42nd Ave S. Turns out that the little section of 42nd is blocked off and doesn’t continue north on 42nd. Instead, it turns west on S Myrtle and feeds right out to MLK. I vote to make it all pedestrian only. It’s perfect. Everyone talks about transit-oriented development, well, here’s your chance.

  3. Cascadian

    I don’t normally prefer big projects like this but at this location it makes sense because the big projects will instantly transform the neighborhood for the better thanks to the presence of the rail station. I’d hope that after these two properties go in to anchor the area, that newer pedestrian-oriented developments go in on a smaller scale piece by piece as opportunities appear. This allows for a more gradual evolution of the neighborhood and the short-term preservation of most of the smaller retail businesses.

  4. Cascadian

    Also, I think it’s good that Safeway is staying for now, even if it’s a low-density use of land. It will enable new residents of the two big developments to do their shopping without having to drive anywhere. It gives non-residents a reason to come to the neighborhood (either by car as they do now or by rail from areas less well-served by grocery stores). Along with the parks to the east it contributes to the diversity of purposes that is necessary for creating and maintaining a successful neighborhood over time.

    In the longer term I’d hope to see a project that retains the grocery store but adds mixed use onto the lot, but with two big developments already going in and an adverse economic climate, it’s better to wait.

  5. Des

    Looks like an interesting scheme at a corner with lots of potential. One question: why are the internal courtyards and passages organized in a way that doesn’t focus on the main corner or the LRT station? At Othello Station North in particular, the internal passages (which look public from the image) seem designed to facilitate diagonal trips in every which direction except to/from the station. Odd.

  6. B

    that’s my hood your talking about. how dare you mr. asscity. how dare you!

    rockin’ the rails this weekend. see you out there dan.

  7. Alex

    I think this is great.

    Right now, MLK is basically a light rail line running between parking lots. A few homes, a few stores, a couple great neighborhood institutions, even, but mostly it’s decayed strip malls. Given how f-ed up MLK is, I really don’t think scale and visual diversity are very big concerns yet. What the area needs most is people, lots and lots of new neighbors. Development momentum. Eyes on the street. A set of communities that feel like they’re actually beginning to thrive.

    Put another 25 developments like these in, and we’ll be at a point where we can start debating the niceties… ;)

  8. Joshua Daniel Franklin

    The New Holly Branch of Seattle Public Library is on 32nd Ave S about half a mile up the hill. I love the convenient access to the city that light rail provides, but it’s also important to have a full-service walkable neighborhood. Cascadian already noted Othello Park to the east, and I hope that the area will fill in with a variety of businesses. According to Walkscore the only major things missing today are a bookstore and hardware!

  9. mike

    yech, the one on the left is interesting. too bad the facade is a blatant rip-off of 2 european projects. only, the euro projects are made of really well done concrete and brick and have more open spaces.

    where or where is the originality w/ architects in this city? pathetic.

  10. dang

    My only issue with these developments is their large footprints. Having a variety of scales only gets you so far. These buildings live and die as single buildings. Future redevelopment will be saddled with the decisions made today; i.e. the buildings that eventually replace these will likely have just as large a footprint, will require comparable financial backing and will only be built by developers large enough to take on a project of this magnitude.

  11. Opening Day Postmortem - Seattle Transit Blog

    […] getting underway and ST2 will be built out over the next 15 years. Development near stations has yet to occur, leaving the station areas feeling desolate and empty. It will be interesting to watch […]

  12. NADC/Times

    […] te nemen. Lege parkeerplaatsen maken plaats voor mixed-use appartementencomplexen. Zie bijvoorbeeld dit project bij Othello Station. Belastingvoordelen voor de bouw van appartementen stimuleren een hogere […]

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  14. Mary Oboner

    Really good blog, thank you so much for your time in writing the posts. Like!

  15. osi layers explained

    Great station

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