Wednesday’s “All Things Considered” on NPR had a piece about a suburban revival transforming a DC suburb called Tysons Corner. Tysons Corner was developed from farms about forty years ago into a sprawling, car-oriented suburban nightmare, and with DC MetroRail planned through that area, urban planners are working to reinvent it. This description of driving around the area (about 3 minutes in) reminds me of the sort of places in our area I really hate, particularly Southcenter.

The whole story in general reminds me of Downtown Bellevue, which was never quite the suburban nightmare as Tysons Corner, but has been transforming into a proper city for the past few decades. Well, at least the downtown is transforming. I think that Link could have a similar effect on communities in our region, though I wonder which stations are going to transform the immediate area. Lynnwood, Tukwila, Northgate? Which areas do you think will be most re-invented by Light Rail?

8 Replies to “Suburban Revival Story”

  1. No offence to Tukwila, but I don’t hold up a lot of hope for this area – ST will have to get a handle on the potential graffiti and vandalism that seems likely in this section of the corridor. This said, though, I am sure a lot of people wrote off the chances for Light Rail helping Tacoma with its rejuvenation dreams but the results have been remarkable. I am sure that Tukwila would like to jump on the opportunities for rejuvenation and I hope they succeed, but my money would be on Northgate taking off the launch pad of light rail – especially around the mall. Bellevue is already rejuventating itself so I don’t have any concerns for its future with or without Light Rail helping it along. If Bellevue gets a tunnel, I think it will be neat – can’t wait for it all myself but its a long dream ahead.

    My hope would be that as with the London underground that ST will not wait for the whole thing to be completed before they open it, but open it by segments as they complete the work.


    1. The first areas to see some real transformation and transit oriented development are the SE Seattle stations. The zoning overlays are in place and some initial projects have been built in anticipation of link opening. I agree transforming the area around Tukwilla/International Blvd. seems to be a bit of a long-shot at this point. I wish Southcenter hadn’t been skipped in the initial segment as I believe it has the potential to transform similar to how the Northgate area is starting to.

      As an aside true transformation seems to need a bit of vision and salesmanship from local planners. Bellevue is clearly showing that with their vision for downtown, the Bel-Red industrial area, and their portion of the Overlake area.

      I believe the plan currently is to open Link in segments. The initial Link segment isn’t waiting for either U-Link or Airport-Link to complete before opening. Northgate will open as soon as it is done (potentially at the same time as U-link if the funding can be found).

  2. Lynnwood had big plans for its downtown as reported in the Seattle Times a few years back. Federal Way has a 16-24 storey highrise development going up next to the transit center. Tukwila will a permanent Sounder station and create a corridor linking it to the mall. However, the recession has put many of these projects on hold. The plans are already in place so we’ll have to wait for the market to pick up again.

    1. That sounds like a good idea to link the Tukwila Station to the Mall but it would be quite a hike but still an opportunity that should be taken if possible.


  3. I think we are already seeing TOD around the stations in the Rainier Valley. I also look to some development around the Sodo/stadium stations. Those are in the middle of nowhere and are begging for development.

  4. From your hesitant writing style, it is clear that you are writing about a place you don’t know. Your comparison with Bellevue is apt — both places are the leading/richest edge cities/malls in their respective metropolitan areas. But contrary to your opinion, Tysons Corner is no worse than Bellevue — both are similar enclaves of suburban wealth and commerce. Period.

    1. Yeah I only know it from the radio piece, but it was fascinating, please do give it a listen.

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