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Community space in Capitol Hill light rail station gets another push

A new force on the Hill took its first steps this weekend to represent community needs in the ongoing discussion with Sound Transit about the future of light rail development on Capitol Hill. A dozen community members met in the Century Ballroom Saturday morning with the Creative Crossroads Committee to discuss the possibilities for community space at the Broadway light rail station.

The Crossroads group is backed by King County, the Cascade Land Conservancy and a $15,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. “Our effort is pulling together a number of experts who are developing recommendations for the Champion (as well as the City and Sound Transit) on a strategy for creating community cultural space in the light rail redevelopment,” Alison Van Gorp of Cascade Land Conservancy told CHS via e-mail.

Van Gorp said Sound Transit and other sponsor groups are exploring ideas for creating community space above the station. Leading ideas according to Van Gorp include a public theatre, an open lobby and multi-use space.

“These buildings can’t have one use. You really want it to have 20 uses,” said community member Matt Kwatinetz. “This is where mixing occurs.”

It was suggested that the station should serve as the center of Capitol Hill, a gathering place and neighborhood icon but the fate of the space is still months away from being decided. The purpose of the meeting was to identify public needs that could be addressed by the space. Comments from the community members in attendance showed perceived need as being widely varied. Affordable housing, gallery space, public space with wifi and others were all suggested but further survey and study will be conducted before the space’s use will be decided upon.

A major problem in designing the space will be how to pay for it. Sound Transit, according to Van Gorp, wants to provide affordable space for community members but Sound Transit must also receive fair market value for the spaces when they are sold. Subsidizing the spaces is a possibility but making this possible would require a capital campaign.

Another issue will be zoning the space. Creating a muti-use space, community members at the meeting decided, may require up-zoning (a change in a property’s zoning to allow the construction of a taller structure), which would require the cooperation of City Council.

Below is the presentation from Saturday’s session:

For more light rail station development discussion, a Nagle Place pedestrian plaza and farmers market space  will be the specific area of development to be discussed at Tuesday night’s Sound Transit meeting. For everybody planning to enjoy a block party, CHS will be there to cover the session and report back.

Nagle Place Extension Workshop

When:     Tuesday, August 3, 2010 06:00 PM – 08:00 PM

Where:     Century Ballroom, 915 E. Pine St., Seattle, WA 98122

What:     Come and join the conversation about including an outdoor plaza as part of the future development above the Capitol Hill light rail station. Sound Transit, the City of Seattle, the Capitol Hill Community Council, and the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce are co-sponsoring a public workshop on the design of the extension of Nagle Place, the future home to the Broadway Farmers Market. Share your ideas: What other public uses could this space serve? How would this space reflect Capitol Hill?

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3 thoughts on “Community space in Capitol Hill light rail station gets another push

  1. Yes, the Hill is the center of all. NOT Fremont.

    But, it is a capital campaign.

    Nice report, big decisions or rather ideas. Little of real substance. Except, gee $$$$$, it will take a lot of money.

  2. Community Crossroads is working hand in hand with the Capitol Hill Champion, focusing on one particular possibility for the Sound Transit re-development: interior community/cultural space in one of the buildings. We are all in this together. Creative Crossroads’ work will inform the Champion’s community advocacy and the refinement of community priorities for the Sound Transit sites going forward.