Proposed Station Area Zoning Changes. Codes 1 and 4 are Low-Rise L-3; 2, 3, and 5 are 85′ Heights

Tomorrow evening from 6pm to 8pm, Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development is hosting an open house on the Rainier Beach Neighborhood Plan Update:

Wednesday, November 28, 6:00 to 8:00pm

South Shore K-8 School, 4800 S. Henderson Street, Seattle

The final plan has a bunch of strategies for making the area more inviting. Transit and zoning are not the emphasis, but beginning on Page 32 it discusses the station area and how it can become more active, to include transit master plan improvements and development.

This meeting is not about the plan, which is complete, but its implementation. Rainier Beach is not a neighborhood where private development interests are rushing in, so it’s important to have an affirmative strategy to get things started.


22 Replies to “Rainier Beach Planning Open House Tonight”

  1. It’s not but it should be!

    Just look at where it is geographically! A Southern Gateway to Seattle.

    I think Lake Washington southern “U” from Rainier to Sunset is poised for growth.

    And the new Rapid Ride line that interconnects the Airport, Amtrak, Renton…this area is insanely rich with small businesses.

  2. Nice transit station, shame it’s in the middle of a green belt and the commercial and residential center of Rainier Beach starts about half a mile to the east. Oh well.

    1. I hadn’t realized that until this post. Huge green belt on one side, wide power line right of way on the other. That walkshed is what 70% green?

      1. “green” should be in quotes. That said, it does have potential for transfers. [Queue the endless thread of suggestions for route truncations here]

        (Bruce’s 106/8 restructure being the most obvious choice here, but perhaps truncating/restructuring the 101 in exchange for vastly improved headways and getting another bus out of the tunnel?)

    2. Unfortunately without spending a lot more money there really wasn’t a good way to run a rail line between the airport and Downtown via Rainier Valley without having a somewhat sub-optimal placement for the “Rainier Beach” station.

      1. That station should have been at Rainer and Henderson, the commercial hub of Rainer Beach, and then routed through the current alignment to go to Tukwila. Makes sense, no? Also, add a Boeing Acess Road station with parking. Now they are trying to rezone and attract development when you already have commercial activity a half mile east. You have three public schools, retail and a public library that would have had front door transit. Pathetic design!

      2. It’s pointless to second guess the design now. The question is how do we make lemonade out of this lemon. I’m guessing the hated “towers in the park”, only because we have no other option. But not until we fully build out the other stations. 85′ is fine for now.

      3. It’s not towers in the park; it’s ordinary midrise developments along neighborhood streets. Towers in the park would be if each building had its own superblock and a large empty space on all sides.

      4. I was describing what we could do with this station eventually. Tall towers and high density, surrounded by a park. Yes, that’s different than each building being surrounded by dead empty space, but you would still get many of the same isolating effects.

      5. Rainier Beach’s potential was always limited given how it’s hemmed in on three sides. People in Rainier Valley, Beacon Hill, and West Seattle have long gotten used to long narrow districts cut off from each other east and west. This change is a major step toward realizing Rainier Beach’s potential and the vision for Rainier Beach station. Eventually the station village and the Safeway-area village will meet and become seamless, and there will be a frequent bus or streetcar on Henderson Street between them.

    3. The commercial and residential center of Columbia City is also about half a mile to the east, with a cliff to the west of the Station. Having nice developement near the station (even if it is mostly subsidized) makes the, area more inviting, and a not so scary place to wait for your ride. The Train also helped spur growth in the center, such as the new 124 unit market rate GreenHouse that just opened (I believe only the second market rate complex in the RV to open in some 30 years, behind The Station at Othello), and the planned 200 unit market rate building + PCC that be built on the current Columbia Plaza stripmall lot.

      While Columbia City is closer to downtown and its historic DT has more to offer, and so will likely take more growth faster, I see no reason to believe that Rainier Beach will always be place it currently is. Updating neighborhood plans and helping that along isn’t a waste of effort IMO.

      1. I completely agree that we should upzone the land which is available in the walkshed, and do anything reasonable to attract developers there.

  3. This Rainier upzone looks great, and I’m glad the city is moving forward with it. Hopefully this will see some interest from developers.

    I’m still stumped by the lack of development surrounding Mt. Baker station though. Can anyone off their insights on that?

    1. I am pinning my hopes that SDOT will push forward with the Bowtie and that combined with the continued recovery will bring some more development.

  4. The west side is not only a greenbelt, it’s a hillside. Carkeek Way dips south and comes back presumably as a switchback. But I don’t think this argues that the station is a bad location, but simply that Rainier Valley is narrow and has an edge.

    Link would have been better on Rainier Avenue but I believe ST decided it was too narrow and congested to support a line or the disruption of construction.

    Rainier Beach absolutely needs to be built up to a larger urban village. That way we can leverage the station that is there rather than depending on a costly extension.

  5. Will there still be a possibility for bus staging areas so that the option of having connecting buses to downtown Renton and Southcenter can happen in the future?

    1. I was wondering the same thing. It looks like they are just upzoning the current lots, with no provision for additional bus staging areas. Without using some of that land for buses, no plan to truncate major south-end routes at Rainier Beach will be very workable.

    2. If you read the plan for the station area, you’ll see they endorse the plan to end the 7 there and put in the appropriate layover space.

      The plan to truncate buses isn’t really dependent on massive staging areas. There’s tons of space over at Rainier and Henderson, which isn’t far away.

      1. If you want to truncate buses, you have to make the transfer workable. That involves staging (not necessarily laying over, but staging) buses where people can easily walk to them from the station and have time to load. You can’t block a lane of MLK in its current configuration to load or unload 40 people onto a truncated 101 or 150. It would have serious traffic impacts and SDOT would not likely allow it. You’d have to add an out-of-traffic zone, which would require taking some land.

    3. There’s tons of industrial land just south of the station too. Just a few parcels down is an existing (non-Metro) bus barn if I remember right. If that’s not available, one of the other companies might have extra space it could lease to Metro.

      1. Again, it’s not a matter of layover space, but of sufficient space right next to the station to load high numbers of passengers onto and off of high-frequency bus routes.

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