Building Broadway Station: Great City turns its attention to Hill’s light rail land development

Here’s the deal. Sound Transit owns the property surrounding the future Capitol Hill light rail station. And, like any good landowner in one of the most dense neighborhoods in the western United States, Sound Transit is going to develop its holdings. There’s one wrinkle, however, to consider. Sound Transit is a public agency and, therefore, is beholden to community input — and political pressure — that the typical Capitol Hill landholder is not. In essence, their land is our land, too. We just have to figure out what — and, politically, how — to tell them what to do with it.

The topic of transit oriented development will be on the table at Thursday’s Great City brown bag: Building Broadway Station. Sounds like somebody already has a name for the development cooked up. Details on the discussion and attending is below.

To brush up, here is some of our past coverage on the process that has already been underway since 2009 to shape the Capitol Hill station before it opens for its first day of service in 2016:

Development Projects of the Highest Quality
Due their central location and adjacency to several Capitol Hill landmarks, there was unanimous support for the highest quality development on the TOD sites.

A Permanent Home for the Farmer’s Market
Provide a permanent home for the popular Capitol Hill Farmer’s Market on either Nagle Place or Denny Street by making them either low-traffic streets with enhanced sidewalks and pedestrian amenities (for Denny) or a woonerf (for Nagle).

Affordable Housing and Business Space
Capitol Hill has some of the highest real estate prices in Seattle; therefore, incorporate affordable housing and affordable local business space.

A Cultural Center and Community Spaces
A cultural center and space for community activity is currently lacking on Capitol Hill. Providing such spaces – including a dedicated space for the LGBT community – is desired.

A Gateway and Neighborhood Wayfinding
Given their geographically central locations on Capitol Hill, the TOD sites are at the intersection of many popular pedestrian routes as well as the future street car line, current bus routes, and future Sound Transit station. The TOD sites should accommodate and enhance these connections as well as provide a gateway and aid in route finding around Capitol Hill.

Environmentally Responsible Building Practices
Low impact site development and sustainable design and construction measures should be incorporated in all development.

Selective Additional Height
Given the immediate adjacency to the Sound Transit stations, there was limited support for increasing currently allowable building height as an option to incorporating desired community goals.

Low Ratio Parking
In acknowledgment of TOD best practices, as well as reflecting its location in a high density neighborhood, lower than typical market-dictated parking ratios are desirable.

There was also a panel this spring that discussed Capitol Hill 2016 as part of Capitol Hill Housing’s annual meeting.

One key component of any good Sound Transit TOD discussion is “fair market value.” The agency is quick to point to what it says are legally mandated restrictions it faces in its development plans so that its projects achieve calculated fair market value. Here’s an example from a forum earlier this year where fair market value came up for a protracted discussion. We’ll be interested to hear if anybody at the Great City session has fair market value solutions for things like building community space into the plan.

Details on Thursday’s Great City brown bag:

Where: GGLO Space at the Steps, 1301 First Ave., Level A
Date: Thursday, September 23, 2010
Time: 12:00 pm to 1:30 pm
Enter through door located about 1/4 of the way down the Harbor Steps (click for map)

The planned multi-modal transit station at Broadway and John in Capitol Hill is one of Seattle’s best opportunities to realize the full benefits of equitable transit oriented development.  The neighborhood is among the densest residential neighborhoods in the city and is home to a diverse and engaged community, eager for improved transit access and revitalization in the commercial districts of Broadway, 12th Avenue, and the Pike and Pine corridors. In the coming years, Sound Transit and the City of Seattle will extend link light rail to Broadway and the University of Washington, and build a new streetcar line from the International District to Capitol Hill. These investments will in turn create significant redevelopment opportunities in the Broadway Station Area.
The Capitol Hill community has been engaged throughout the planning process for these projects, effectively advancing the community’s vision for the equitable and vibrant development that reflects the culture and character of the neighborhood. This presentation will provide an overview of the planned transit investments, the ongoing planning process, as well as development opportunities and community priorities.


Scott Kirkpatrick
is TOD Program Manager at Sound Transit and is leading the design and planning process for the private development of 4 Sound Transit-owned sites above the Broadway Station. Private developers for these sites will be selected through and RFQ/RFP process in 2012-2013.

Ethan Melone
, Rail Transit Manager at Seattle Department of Transportation, is the lead planner for the First Hill Streetcar which will connect the diverse and vibrant neighborhoods on Capitol Hill, First Hill, and in the Chinatown/International District, while serving medical centers (Harborview, Swedish, and Virginia Mason) and higher education (Seattle Central Community College and Seattle University).

Vanessa Murdock
, a senior urban planner for the City of Seattle, is the City project lead for the development of an Urban Design Framework for the Sound Transit owned sites on Capitol Hill. The UDF will bridge the City’s planning policies, design guidelines and zoning regulations, laying out more specific design and development criteria for the development of the Broadway Station Area.

Cathy Hillenbrand
chairs the Capitol Hill Champions, a joint effort of the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce and the Capitol Hill Community Council to advocate for community priorities in the redevelopment of the Broadway Station area. Primary community objectives include a permanent home for the farmers market, affordable housing, community cultural space and affordable space for small businesses.
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4 thoughts on “Building Broadway Station: Great City turns its attention to Hill’s light rail land development

  1. Good job , oh mighty C H S, par excellencey blog. You have covered this issue well.

    Justin, do you ever sleep?

    And when are you going to tackle UFO’s – which topic is springing back to life….


    Mike, oft called Sir Curls ( when dressed in full leather Star Trek high command uniform )

  2. Mike, remember, its only one of the blue pills before bedtime.

    Now, on topic. I still feel that nagle place should gently curve up to Broadway, instead of intersecting with Denny. And make the opening narrow, alley width. Make it seem as though when you are walking along Broadway, you are discovering a neat little passageway, and then you end up with that glorious tree and Cal Anderson park.

  3. Too bad this meeting is during the middle of the day – impossible to get to unless you work downtown. An evening community meeting would draw many more people.

    On another note, the “for sale” sign is gone from the vacant Taco Time lot on Madison. Any info?

  4. great idea, Prost: There were at least two people that brought this up at the design charette. I was one of them, though my ‘group’ shot it down politely.

    It’s good design though. The complaint will be: how do you provide maintenance access for the subway (which is at at least 3 pre-determined points, since the LINK station was designed years prior to the surface TOD, and seemingly without a care for the end use) AND alley access for the businesses bound to be on the ground floor, as well as effectively sell -“at market value”- what would then need to be an odd, hard-to-fill triangular real estate space at surface level and likely above levels too.


    again, though the peekaboo view of cal anderson (and the Scholar Tree) from the newly-more-important interesection of John/Olive & Broadway WOULD be the right way to go.