The 2006 version of the plan (click to enlarge)

The Highline Times had an interesting pair of articles on Monday about development in Seatac.  The first mention’s the City’s plans to create a “downtown entertainment district” around the light rail station, specifically its plan to buy a surface parking lot and replace it with a garage that would improve car access to the neighborhood.   Great, except that the current owners would like to build a multi-use development there instead (see the next article).

The second one is about “a moratorium on applications for building and development permits in the station area.”  Apparently developers are unhappy with some of the requirements the City has enacted.  Seatac planning director Steve Butler says “the proposed standards would upgrade ground floor space requirements, establish a new street grid and increase design regulations for parking structures.”*

There’s an open house (with a flyer) about all this on Monday night:

Date: 12/7/2009 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Location: Holiday Inn Conference Center
17338 International Blvd.
SeaTac, Washington 98188

It’s times like this I wish NorthwestHub still had paid reporters to sort it all out.  Perhaps HugeAssCity can break this down for us?

*this quote from The Highline Times.

The illustration can be viewed in this 2006 City of Seatac report.

26 Replies to “TOD in Seatac”

  1. Yeah, what SeaTac needs is more parking lots (rolls eyes). TOD would be SeaTac’s only chance not to be a desert of parking lots and cheap hotels.

    1. Better to have private, property-tax-paying parking lots in SeaTac than to have the POS cabal build yet more of its property-tax-exempt parking structures which are financed by the guarantee of mandatory contributions (i.e. the POS levy) from residents allover the region, built adjacent to the terminal buildings, which is in itself a security threat to them. Their existence causes the POS to want to encourage private automobile use for trips to the aerodrome, or by taxi since POS has a sanctioned monopoly on all taxi trips FROM the airport.

      THAT is Marxism in my book, especially when the POS levy was intended to fund the shipping ports, and since the profits from these subsidized parking structures have ended up being blown on un-needed gate expansions (see Concourse A), duplicitous conference facilities (Pier 66) and ritzy Headquaters (Pier 69) for egomaniac Commissioners (Pat Davis, who still thinks WTO’99 was a sucees)

      1. Supposedly all of the port’s projects at the airport are paid for by fees to airport tenants including the runway and terminal expansions as well as the rental car facility and parking garage.

        Speaking of the Seatac airport garage it is one of the largest single parking structures in the world with 13,000+ spaces.

  2. Ouch, plus they’re paying for the parking garage partially with a 2% utility tax. That’s right SeaTac residents, even if you ride light rail or the bus to work and don’t own a car you’re still going to pay for other people to park.

    1. After superimposing the plan map onto google earth, I’m impressed with the mix of old and new developement into a cohesive master station plan. Well done SeaTac. 3 major developements remain, while over 50% of the areas surface parking lots are replaced with high density-high rise, multiuse public and private spaces. All this within an average 1/4 mile walk of the rail station.
      Sounds like the highest and best use of the land. I hope the private owners, balking at the new design standards, can grasp the potential of a well done area master plan.

      1. I agree that the plan looks very good, but I saw no indication of specifics. Is there more info out there that I missed?

  3. I can’t think of any airport district in any city that is attractive, or a “destination”. The airports themselves are, of course, but the areas around them are always strictly utilitarian.

    That’s not to say it can’t be done, but it will be difficult at best. I tend to side with the folks who think it’s best to have the land be a property tax generating enterprise.

    1. I think Irvine, CA’s “downtown” (to the extent that it has one) is right next to John Wayne Airport. I think SeaTac can make it work.

    2. Hmm. And Cascade Station (a major retail destination and a few hotels) is only a stone’s throw/one stop light rail stop from PDX.

    3. I don’t mean to sound antagonistic in any way, but surely you’ve haven’t heard of Crystal City in Arlington, VA at all, have you?

      It is sandwiched between US 1 and Reagan National Airport and is home to some 6,000 residents as well as 60,000 workers at it’s offices and underground shopping areas.

      Above is an aerial photograph, with Reagan National Airport to the right, which is actually much closer than the placement of the SeaTac development.

  4. The problem with the current land owner is that they have a typical strip mall vision for this site.

    They also seem very unsophisticated, which doesn’t bode well for changing the current land use pattern nightmare down here.

    Not that those things justify the city condemning their land – but I think the city would be a lot more friendly if these folks knew what they were doing.

  5. I wish them the best of luck:

    See that huge parking lot at Intl Blvd and 170th? That’s a valet parking service. And guess what? Those roads that run right through it? There used to be houses there before they bought them out. And that Shell station? It’s been there forever.

    Somebody’s going to have to give those businesses a lot of money to move out. And really, who wants to live right next to the airport?

    1. Great, so its probably a Superfund site to boot!?!

      Plus who knows what gets dumped by 13 Coins. But it sure makes tasty food!

    2. really, who wants to live right next to the airport?

      No one really. Which is why the Port bought out so many homes around the area. I can’t imagine people in the area even wanting to spend much time outside. Not just the noise but the smell. I supposed “mixed use” can just mean something besides a lobby on the first floor of a hotel but nobody wants to be this close to an airport long term. They’re trying to put another jail under the south end of the runway. It’s an OK place to ride a mtn bike for a few hours and across the street the golf course does OK although it’s certainly less than idea. North Seatac where the old school used to be they practice rugby and there’s a BMX track. Again, short term use on land nobody really wants.

    3. ….who wants to live right next to the airport?
      How about ‘some’ of the 30,000 people who work there? The worst noise is in line with the runways, not adjacent to them. Sure you can hear the jets from the hotels there, but it’s not a game stopper for some people.
      Hell, I grew up next to a busy railroad and didn’t think much of it at the time.

      1. Also, the noise may not be bad but the proximity to the airport lowers property values, so lower-income people can live there.

      2. I don’t think property values along the strip are lower so low income can live there. It’s all zoned commercial which makes it super expensive. They can fill the area with hotel rooms that because of the proximity to the airport have high occupancy and can charge a premium rate. Condos or apartments would have to draw a premium to compete with that land use. Link makes it all the more compelling to live far enough away to have an easy commute to cheaper housing without the negatives of being right next to the airport.

        The worst noise is under the flight path at the end of the runways but the smell and the traffic congestion is a issue close to the terminal. And it’s still noisy. You hear all the traffic taking off and landing.

        I looked at Crystal City. Looks a lot like Seatac. Nowhere do they promote “move to Crystal City”. Other than being more upscale since it’s minutes from the nation’s capital it’s a long row of hotels, entertainment and shops geared to business travelers. Reagan is also about half the activity at Seatac (18M passengers per year vs 32M, 7M lbs of freight vs 21M).

        I always thought it was a mistake to incorporate with the name “SeaTac”. It just rings with the connotation of Tacky. Wouldn’t you rather say you live in the town of say, Salish? And I’m surprised the Port hasn’t pushed harder to reinforce the name Jackson International.

      3. I used to live in Crystal City, less than a mile from Reagan, and it was great! There’s a decent nightlife for a inner-suburb, a nearby mall within walking distance, a good variety of restaurants, and a great commute into downtown DC. And it wasn’t loud at all, since my TOD building was built with extra sound insulation. I lived on the non-airport side of the building, but I never heard the planes while walking around the neighborhood, since Crystal city isn’t in their flight path. Seatac can definitely become an urban village if they try, and manage their development well. It’s not impossible just because they’re near an airport.

      4. Proximity to the airport tends to lower property values. But it’s still relative to supply and demand. So “low” may still be unaffordable to airport workers.

      5. That’s certainly true for housing under the flight path. It’s not true regarding the commercial space on International Blvd next to the terminal which is where this concept plan is located. I pulled up the property info for the Radisson at the airport. It sits on 5 acres, built in 1988 and the assessor values the land at $9 million and the building at $5 million. I compared that to the Radisson in Bothell (North Creek). I was built in 1989, also sits on 5 acres and the land is valued at $4 million and the building at $6 million. The commercial value of the land in this area makes the notion of “neighborhood oriented mixed use” unworkable. Around the S. 200th station they might be able to make a go of it.

  6. What’s with the artist’s rendering in the second article? They don’t seem to know where the light rail station is.
    I really hope they do end up getting a good mixed-use area around the station. That could be a great little district. And even the parking garage could work out not too bad, if they disguise it and put some ground floor retail in there.

  7. It’s sad that Huge Ass City stopped covering TOD. STB has been an indespensible source for transit and TOD news, and huge ass city, sadly, has seemed to turn into a sort of vanity project.

    Last time I went to a SeaTac city meeting they were discussing putting a casino right across from the airport station. That could have effected SeaTac’s plans.

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