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Sound Transit wants light rail housing, retail development feedback but what will they do with it?

Sound Transit is not only charged with building light rail tunnels and the Capitol Hill station in the ground along Broadway between Denny and John. By 2016, they will have also developed the area into a transportation, housing and retail center on some of the most valuable real estate in the city of Seattle. It’s a tremendous opportunity — and responsibility —  for the agency. They’ll need ‘community support’ — that’s you! — to make it happen.

Tonight from 6p to 8p at Seattle Central, Sound Transit continues this ‘transit oriented development’ process with a public meeting to collect community feedback about the area’s retail and housing needs.

Sound Transit is trying two new approaches after feedback about their first TOD discussion being too much of a presentation and not enough of a feedback opportunity. Full disclosure: I was both a presenter in the first session and a source of feedback that a better format is needed!


  1. Sound Transit has arranged extra space for tonight’s meeting to allow people to break into smaller groups, discuss issues and then come back together as a large group to share findings.
  2. ST has created a survey to collect feedback in a more quantitative format and, best of all, to better involve people who can’t make tonight’s meeting. The Sound Transit Broadway Housing and Retail survey can be found here.

We’ve broken out one of the key questions from the survey here on CHS in an even less scientific poll format. The point of Sound Transit’s effort is collecting feedback — not science — so think of the poll as a practice run and a way to see where CHS readers are leaning.

The survey and tonight’s forum hinge on a few key discussions:

  • What housing types can Sound Transit’s development rules encourage?
  • Should there be an emphasis on rental housing, ownership or a mix?
  • What types of retail can Sound Transit’s development rules encourage?

But what is still not clear is how proscriptive Sound Transit can and will be in defining how the development is ultimately used. Can elements like square footage and size of retail spaces and the amount of parking provided really determine if a bakery is part of the light rail station development when it opens in 2016? Unlikely. Asking more questions — and providing more solutions — for how Sound Transit can ultimately act on the collected feedback has to happen. And there are no survey questions about that, of course.

There’s also not a survey question that gets to the heart of the matter regarding retail — so here’s a CHS bonus question for you to ponder:

Tentative schedule for the forums is below. If you have questions or suggestions about the topics and schedule, contact Michelle Ginder michelle.ginder@soundtransit.org

Working Group Meetings Community Forums Topics
  • Jan. 9

  • Feb. 12
March
  • Intro/Objectives
  • Community involvement process
  • ST Redevelopment Vision/ TOD Approach
  • ST business/project objectives
  • Description of sites/issues
  • RFQ/RFP process
  • Design review process
  • Community Uses
  • Farmer’s Market
  • Meeting space
  • Arts
  • Other
  • April
  • May
June
  • New Housing
  • Density and mix including affordability
  • Code requirements
  • Project delivery requirements
  • Future Retail
  • Market and mix
  • Physical requirements, access
  • Below-Grade Parking
  • Tenant vs. public parking
  • Access and circulation
  • Auto parking alternatives
  • July
  • August
September
  • Nagle Extension
  • Options
  • Physical requirements
  • Public vs. private
  • Urban Design and Streetscape
  • Relationship to Broadway
  • SCCC Interface
  • October
November
  • Green Building
  • Sustainability and ST requirements
  • City of Seattle initiatives and requirements
  • Other topics – TBD
  • December
  • January
February
  • Redevelopment Vision Synthesis
  • Moving Forward
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4 thoughts on “Sound Transit wants light rail housing, retail development feedback but what will they do with it?

  1. I have gone to many of these meetings and do not believe for a minute they care one whit about so called feedback.

    The 20 billion plan is staffed by highly paid folks who resent to their professional core the thought that a wanderer from the street might have a better idea than they.

    Some meetings they have not even been polite. Go learn, it is interesting, but 99 per cent is set in stone at staff meetings far removed from the input or scrutiny of the unwashed public.
    As an aside, even though the projects sits in the middle of the LGBT community, historically and currently, I have yet to hear those frightful words mentioned.

    Diversity is their code de plume for queer/gay/lesbian.

  2. True. I don’t think I’ve seen the words queer, gay or lesbian in any of sound transit powerpoints. Riffing off a recent Slog theme, is the Capitol Hill light rail station gay enough?

  3. And found the ST folks rather amateurish when it comes to dealing with public forums. So does this hold up Mike’s take on the validity of the forum? We’ll see, but at least give them some credit for responding to some criticisms of the first “forum”. At this one, I made sure I was heard. And I’ll go to future meetings and make sure I am heard there too. If anything, even if ST’s not listening, other people, my neighbors, are listening and want to get them as riled up as I’ve been.

    On a side note… one of the retail consultants invited to speak by ST did list the LGBT community as a “non-retail anchor” of the neighborhood. His term–a little retail consultant-y for my liking. Not only an acknowledgment of the LGBT community’s existence, but its central role on the hill.

  4. I’m a former resident of Capitol Hill (well, 12th and Spring on Cherry Hill, close enough) who bought his first house in Tacoma, on the hill above the Dome, right near I-5.

    I was involved in the process early on, while in Seattle, and have seen how self-important and incompetent the agency has become – if not downright dangerous in the civic realm.

    The Dome District in Tacoma has been in a long standing battle with the agency on Heavy Rail here, some progress has been made, but definitely a time consuming negative slog the whole way through.

    Check out the blog, if you are interested. FWIW, we could use $600,000 down here for our business association too.

    http://doitrighttacoma.blogspot.com/

    -Douglas Tooley
    http://motleytools.com/blog