Sound Transit held an open house last night in the Roosevelt neighborhood to discuss priorities for transit-oriented development (TOD). The transit agency has three sites that will eventually become surplus once construction of the light rail station is complete. Following on from an initial meeting on the topic in January, the agency collected feedback from the public on what their TOD priorities are through an online survey and series of stakeholder workshops with the cooperation of the Roosevelt Neighborhood Association, which won a Futurewise Smart Growth award for their work.

The new Roosevelt light rail station is planned to open in 2021. The central site, highlighted in red below, will be available for TOD in early 2020. The other two sites, highlighted in yellow below, will be available a year or so later. Zoning on the sites differ–something we covered before–allowing structures between 65 feet and 85 feet in height. That could bump up slightly in the next year or so as Seattle moves forward with planned rezones. Regardless, a consequential amount housing is possible–likely at least 300 units–and plenty of storefronts so the question is how Sound Transit will program the sites.

Three sites are planned for TOD in Roosevelt. (Sound Transit)
Three sites are planned for TOD in Roosevelt. (Sound Transit)

At the first open house, community members provided some key directions to agency staff on ground floor uses and public space. These included some of the following:

  • Ground floor uses: a desire for office space, a grocery store, park space, space for a food truck pod, and retail space for a bakery, coffee shop, or minimart.
  • Public space: a desire for public art, improved pedestrian crossings at NE 67th St, and wayfinding signage.

Sound Transit also received wide-ranging feedback from their online survey, which picked out priorities for affordable housing, ground floor uses, and open space. In the survey, respondents were able to pick multiple priorities. The highest priorities in each category broke out as follows:

  • Affordable housing: Most respondents indicated support creating affordable housing regardless of what population or income level served (67%), but that was closely followed by affordable housing dedicated to families with children (64%). Coming in third was affordable housing targeting seniors and people with disabilities (36%); a much smaller percentage indicated support for homeless and low-income populations.
  • Ground floor uses: Topping the list for ground floor use priorities was food and beverage (52%), a clear indication that the public wants restaurants, bars, and cafés. Not far behind were grocery (48%) and general retail (41%) uses. Childcare and preschool (40%) also punched up as a priority in the minds of many.
  • Open space: Most respondents (65%) said that high quality pedestrian amenities are necessary for open space, followed by a priority for spaces serving pedestrians and bicyclist (58%) and things like landscaping, trees, and other natural features (50%).

Sound Transit also held three stakeholder workshops, which offered a change to get finer grained details on priorities.

Public space network priorities from the second stakeholder workshop. (Sound Transit)
Public space network priorities from the second stakeholder workshop. (Sound Transit)
Ground floor use priorities from the second stakeholder workshop. (Sound Transit)
Ground floor use priorities from the second stakeholder workshop. (Sound Transit)

From these priorities, Sound Transit has distilled them down into five principles. Two of those principles are highlighted in the following:

Long-term affordable housing principles for TOD. (Sound Transit)
Long-term affordable housing principles for TOD. (Sound Transit)
Active ground floor principles for TOD. (Sound Transit)
Active ground floor principles for TOD. (Sound Transit)

Sound Transit now turns to the next phase of the TOD process, which includes development of a Request for Proposals that development and design firms will be able to respond to. The agency will select one of the submitted proposals allowing the winning team to move forward through a more refined process, similar to the one we’ve seen unfold in Capitol Hill over the past few years. The winning team–which may include a consortium of firms or a single bidder–will then need to get land use entitlements to construct TOD on the surplus station sites. Sound Transit’s timeline suggests a robust but quick process with TOD construction beginning as early as 2020.

The schedule outlined by Sound Transit for the TOD process. (Sound Transit)
The schedule outlined by Sound Transit for the TOD process. (Sound Transit)

In the next few months, Sound Transit should complete the Request for Proposals and start accepting proposal submissions. By the end of the year, a winning team will be selected and negotiations on a contract will begin. Once that’s finished, a community design process will start, perhaps in early 2019.

Sound Transit – Roosevelt TOD Open House #2 – 03-09-17 by The Urbanist on Scribd

Related Article

Sound Transit Considers TOD For Roosevelt Station

Sound Transit Green Lights Capitol Hill Station TOD


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Stephen is an urban planner with a passion for promoting sustainable, livable, and diverse cities. He advocates for smart policies, regulations, and implementation programs that enhance urban environments by committing to quality design, accommodating growth, providing a diversity of housing choices, and adequately providing public services. Stephen primarily writes about land use and transportation issues.


    • Right, but why? Both are north of 65th, and the only street that separates them is a minor one. The 67th street entrance seems superfluous.

  1. Will this station have two entrances along 12th separated only by 66th? I’m struggling to understand what the rationale is for this? Also, why no TOD right on top of the station entrance(s)? What a waste of airspace.

    • I don’t recall the history to that. University District Station will also be somewhat similar in the short distance between entrances. I believe that the reason for no TOD on top of the entrances is the need to provide for exhaust and air to the station platforms below. For underground stations, that’s often a challenge to make work cost-wise for construction above ground.

      • I understand short distances between entrances if each is on different sides of a busy street, but 66th is not busy–65th, I would understand.

        Regarding exhaust, I get it is needed, but stations around the world have figured it out in cities that have much cheaper land than ours.

    • Development rights over the station boxes can be transferred to the main site adjacent. Total development would be same.

          • Just to clarify: That’s not a transfer of development rights in the planning sense. TDR is a special programme that doesn’t exist within this area. Rather what Roger is describing is reservation of development rights for the same site. That is, unused development capacity (i.e., floor area allowances) emanating from one portion of a development site can be moved to another portion of the same development site; it can’t be moved off of a development site like TDR.

          • Thanks for the clarification, Stephen. You get my point exactly — the lack of development over the station boxes doesn’t necessarily lead to under-development of the total site.

          • Okay, I see what you are saying, and I understand the relationship between the station site and the nearby development potential from a total FAR zoning perspective. My issue is that, while the total site may have the same development potential allowed by zoning, the overall development pattern is not really making the best use of the available space in the neighborhood’s densest and most active area.

            It makes one section of the site bulkier and taller than it has to be (with no additional housing being added to the neighborhood over the zoning max) while making two other rather large sections (the entrances) unusable beyond the access they provide to the station–which could be accomplished with a far smaller footprint on the land. This give-and-take would be perfectly fine if the neighborhood needed extra outdoor space and the station entrances were made at either ends of an open plaza, but we are creating two bulky station entrances that are much bigger than they need to be. In my opinion, this is bad design, particularly with both entrances facing the school on the same side of 65th. They seem redundant.

          • Glossing over your rudely dismissive tone, so the design of the station entrances depicted in the illustration are not what Sound Transit will construct when the station opens? Instead they will leave them as entrance boxes and a different developer could buy/lease the land and build on top of it?

          • The station entrances will be built as designed. Please see Stephen’s post below, which better explains what I am talking about.

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