Everett Station Area’s Future

Everett Station, photo by Erubisu 27

The Everett Herald put out a story yesterday detailing the City’s evolving plans to make the Everett Station area more palatable for development and future growth.  In addition to luring private TOD investment, part of the City’s wishlist also calls for the construction of a 500-space parking garage, a massive increase over current capacity.  On a higher policy level, there’s actually lot to like about Everett’s plans, which amount to a needed step forward toward assuming greater municipal control of station area planning.

From The Herald:

Separate from the parking study, city planners are exploring possible ways to encourage multifamily housing and shops near Everett Station. They invited neighboring property owners and others to an informational meeting Wednesday.  The current thinking is to rezone the 10-acre Everett Station site to allow the multifamily housing. As part of the proposal, height limits would rise to 80 feet, from 65 feet now.

While it doesn’t appear that Everett is pursuing an extensive master planning process, revisions to the City’s zoning code may be warranted, given existing land use restrictions.  Currently, the station area is zoned as C-2ES (.pdf)– Heavy Commercial/Light Industrial– and actually prohibits multi-family housing uses, let alone TOD.  There are a few pleasant surprises in the zoning code, however, like the inclusion of pedestrian-oriented design guidelines and planning principles.

The other piece to ongoing station area planning efforts is the possible addition of a parking garage, which might come with a price tag of $15 to $18 million, by the city’s preliminary numbers.  With a minimum of 500 additional spaces, the cost estimates amount to as much as $36,000 per stall or more, a hefty public investment given the fact that parking demand at Everett Station is still currently well within available capacity.

While the land use and parking components are separate planning efforts, any public money spent on Everett’s dime can easily siphon funds away from other critical infrastructure projects in the city.  Instead of building the garage on its own, I’d like to see the City open up opportunities for private actors to determine best uses within the station area, which could include private pay parking, if need be.




Comments

  1. The city is preparing to pick an engineering firm to more closely study the [garage], which is unlikely to start for another five years or so. “We want to be prepared for expected growth; we don’t want to be caught unprepared,” Everett Transit director Tom Hingson said.

    It does sound like the garage’s unnecessary now, but I’m not opposed to their studying it to see if it’d be a good idea in the future. And, the other development sounds like a very good idea.

    • Building a structured parking garage could free up surface parking on some of the 10 acre site, to allow its sale to developers for TOD. If that’s the plan, I support it.

  2. Mark Dublin says:

    What happened to the college that used to be at Everett Station? I thought that was a wonderful use of the space.

    Mark Dublin

  3. Scott Stidell says:

    Although I’m not a huge fan of structured parking, there are times and places where it might not be a bad idea. I live (part of the time) in Greenville, South Carolina, which is about the population of Everett (Greenville County has about the population of Snohomish County as well). Being a good Southern city, it has a [i]very[/i] skeletal transit system, so it’s not a direct analog to Everett. However, 25 or so years ago the city decided to make its downtown a destination, and one of the ways they did this was to build several parking structures around the periphery of the downtown retail area. These are pay during the day; the closest ones to Main Street where all the retail and restaurants are located are a nominal $1-2 in the evening, and a couple of them a bit farther walk away are free during the evenings. It’s an extremely pleasant downtown now with a very vibrant walking culture–and its popularity has led to the recent construction of condos and hotels, adding more life to the area. I don’t think it could’ve happened without the availability of cheap, available parking to help jump start the redevelopment of the downtown core. (I would vastly prefer transit be a better option there, but it isn’t–save a popular free shuttle the local minor league baseball team started running when they built a new minor league park in the downtown area, that now runs every weekend and evenings.)

    That’s not saying it’s a perfect solution for Everett, just that it did work in a town of similar size and downtown density.

    • A key factor here is that the parking garages are at the edge of the district rather than in the middle of it. That allows the core of the district to become at least semi pedestrianized.

      • Scott Stidell says:

        That’s exactly right–in this case, although Main still has on-street parking, it’s impossible to come by. They actually turn Main into a pedestrian-only street for the north mile or so on Thursday and Friday evenings for about six months of the year and have local bands perform; the adjacent restaurants spill out into outdoor dining. Saturday mornings they close some of Main again for the farmer’s market.

        Two things–as you mention, the parking structures are on the periphery (although in Greenville this may only be a block or two off of Main); and second, there are better streets for traffic flow parallel to Main, so they can close it without affecting the area much. In the decade I’ve been there, the retail/restaurant corridor is now about two miles long and extends to the new baseball stadium–which was originally supposed to be built in the suburbs where the older one was.

      • That’s kind of similar to Salem, Oregon. The downtown area is very walkable with lots of stores and restaurants at street level and offices above. Very nice to walk around there. There are a few parking garages on the edges of the downtown core(I don’t know if they are public or private) and they are well-used. But, if you look at the busses coming into downtown, they are well-used as well.

  4. Ok, let me see if I have this right. STB believes Seattle shouldn’t build parking lots for Central Link commuters. But STB does believe ST should encourage cities along the North Link line to build parking lots. STB was for ST leasing parking spaces at Edmonds Station and make those available for free to Sounder commuters. Now STB doesn’t believe Everett should build a parking garage for Sounder commuters, that a private company should build a garage with pay stalls.

    Do I have that right?

    • There’s a difference between advocating that ST should do something, and seeing the silver lining in it when it has. The Edmonds situation was presented as a fait accompli; I don’t think anyone was advocating it before the fact. The good part is that it’s a supposedly “low-cost” solution to a current capacity problem. The general fact remains that building parkades (I love that Canadian word) in Seattle would contradict the urban nature of the neigborhoods it’s trying to restore. In the suburbs, parkades are a necessary evil because of the complete lack of walkability and skeletal local transit in those areas, plus the cul-de-sacs that make it a long walk to a “nearby” bus.

      ST is exploring charging for parking at some lots, and we want to encourage this, but it’s not worth getting ahead of the game and berating them for not doing it right now at this moment. The wheels of bureaucracy are slow. The movement for outsourcing “P&Rs” to cities or leaving it to private developers is even newer still, so it’ll take longer to become mainstream.

    • Martin H. Duke says:

      Sam, stop saying “STB believes” when the post is clearly authored by somebody. You’ve been corrected on this before.

      I don’t know about the private company, but obviously an all-day Link line has different conditions from Sounder.

      A parking lot that’s already full is different from a parking lot that isn’t.

    • John Bailo says:

      I don’t know if anyone is reading the entire text but it mentions that it may be adding commercial space, so yes, it’s more like a mall with a train station than the LINK stations which are just near a mall.

      Given that, you’d want parking for employees, shoppers, and not just commuters.

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