Over the last week there’s been a lot of conflicting information with regards to the 900-stall parking garage at Northgate. It started with Cascade’s blog post accusing Sound Transit (ST) of making a backroom deal to build 900 parking stalls, which ST initially denied but later recanted. This could be a reflection of the complex and evolving planning story of Northgate, but it certainly indicates that it has not been thoroughly vetted by the community.
Northgate is, in my opinion, the single most complex station in all of ST2, if not the system. While there is disagreement about how much parking is the prudent choice, from a legal, short-term, and long-term perspective, everyone involved wants to make Northgate a shinning success of Transit Oriented Development, bus-rail integration, and non-motorized access.
Thursday’s ST Board briefing slides are above. Below are highlights of my talk with Ron Posthuma, Assistant Director of KCDOT, who is King County’s lead on the Northgate TOD effort.
Through the Growing Transit Communities (GTC) program, of which STB is a member organization, King County (KC), ST and the City of Seattle DPD have been working on creating a “catalyst project” at Northgate. The idea is to open the station with a bang, bringing a critical mass to the station area so private development follows. These discussions have been occurring within the GTC program and in parallel with ST Northgate station area planning. Those not following both could certainly get the wrong impression because of this.
Additionally, according to Ron Posthuma, Simon Properties, which owns Nortghate Mall, has been a part of the discussion. Simon Properties, which will lose 451 stalls during construction and 64 permanently, is interested in the idea of a 600-900 stall shared-use garage, much like the current “SPG” (ie JCPenney) parking garage. KC Metro currently leases 280 of these stalls.
Construction of the SPG parking garage was necessary for the mall to meet its lease agreements with long term tenants. Ron said that without the SPG garage the recent expansion of the Mall to the west would have violated the lease agreements. Likewise if the Mall wants to further redevelop parking lots with shopping and TOD, additional structured parking will be required to comply with lease agreements. A shared use garage would make redevelopment of surface parking a more likely option.
Tomorrow I’ll post about King County’s take on the garage