Late last year the City of Kent approved a huge TOD rezone at the future Kent-Des Moines Road Station, close to Highline Community College:
The Kent City Council has approved zoning regulations and design guidelines in place for when light rail is scheduled to come to town by 2023 along Pacific Highway South on the West Hill…
The Midway area stretches for 3 1/2 miles between South 216th Street and South 272nd Street along Pacific Highway South…
The city will allow building heights from 55 to 200 feet, which is about 16 stories tall. City officials want to encourage developers to build up rather than the construction of more strip malls.
You can read all about this rezone in item 8B in the agenda packet available here, especially Exhibit A, starting on page 406. The revised zoning code starts around page 500. It envisions three new Midway zoning designations: MCT-1, with 80% lot coverage and 5 story/55 ft heights; MCT-2, with 100% max site coverage, and 16 story/200 ft heights; and MCR, with 80% coverage and 200 ft heights. Height limits are shorter at the edges.
Multifamily parking requirements dropped from a status quo of 1.8-2 spaces per unit (1 per unit for efficiencies) to 0.75 in these zones; the current RV parking requirement would be waived entirely.
It’s a common argument that it doesn’t make much sense to build high-capacity transit way out into the suburbs when so many close-in neighborhoods remain underserved. While this has a a lot of merit, suburbs that are willing to think this big can create actual destination stations that make all-day service worthwhile, especially when Seattle is fighting trench warfare over the difference between 40 and 65 feet.
Enough about zones; much more about station location and old-school stakeholder feedback after the jump.
Station Location Concepts
Kent started out with three station location concepts, and developed a fourth based on stakeholder feedback (p. 428-429). They all include a 500-stall parking garage as required by Sound Transit:
- The SR-99 Station option generally represented one that Sound Transit considered for budgeting purposes. Their rail alignment was located along the west side of SR-99 as an elevated structure near Highline Community College. The vision expanded Highline Community College campus into the east parking lot with a pedestrian bridge to provide safe access across SR-99. New roads break up the existing street grid and a regional detention facility manages stormwater runoff. Bridges over SR-516 and I-5 would connect neighborhoods.
- The 30th Ave South Station option came out of the public process. The alignment would be at grade through the station area, becoming elevated south of S 240th St. The roads, detention facility, and campus expansion found in the SR-99 concept are also proposed here. Both the public and the Stakeholders Committee thought a 30th Ave alignment could create a more pedestrian friendly environment, where the train and automobiles moved at a slower pace than would be the case along SR-99. A large amount of right of way would be needed to accommodate multiple modes of transportation on 30th Ave.
- The I-5 Station option was considered because the Cities of Des Moines and Federal Way Comprehensive Plans express the desire for locating future light rail on I-5 and not on SR-99. The trains would move along a combination of elevated and at-grade rail alignments. The roads, detention facility, and campus expansion found in the SR-99 concept are also proposed here. There would be an uphill climb to SR-99 and the college, and limited opportunity for development to the east of the station.
- After completing the Envision Midway public outreach and compiling the feedback, a fourth station option was developed. This fourth option reflects the additional comments from representatives of Highline Community College who wish to preserve their east parking lot, thereby negating transit oriented development within their boundaries. The fourth option places the light rail station on the east side of SR-99,connecting the station directly to an area poised for transit supportive development… [See below] . The vision includes parks, a multi-purpose trail adjacent to an enhanced regional stormwater detention facility. Public and private circulation is pedestrian-friendly and connects to the trails and parks.