When Lynnwood Link begins construction early next year, it will be joined by two major residential projects in southern Snohomish County as cities begin to attempt their own transit-oriented development.
In Mountlake Terrace, work has begun on the “Terrace Station” project, which will build a complex of three apartment buildings just south of the future Link station at 236th Street Southwest. The first phase, expected to open 2020, will consist of a five-story building with 250 apartments and ground-floor retail space along a new street that leads directly to the Link station. At full buildout, the complex will have 600 apartments and 80,000 square feet of retail space.
For a city of 21,000 people, the addition of 600 transit-oriented units is a huge deal. With a little back-of-a-napkin math and an assumption of 1.5 people per unit, this adds up to a 4 percent increase in housing capacity, all around a transit station. For Seattle to make an equivalent investment in transit-oriented housing, about 20,000 people would need to be housed around our severely under-zoned stations, to the tune of a few dozen high-rise skyscrapers à la Burnaby and Surrey in Metro Vancouver.
Not bad for the site of a former elementary school, facing a freeway and a nondescript, low-slung office park and a movie theater.
Further north in Lynnwood, things are looking up for the city’s long-term plans for a city center, with two completed apartment buildings and a new hotel on the way. While they’ll serve Lynnwood’s station just fine in 2024, the next northbound station at the Alderwood Mall is already seeing some of its first proximate high-rise development, 18 years before it’s scheduled to open.
Last week, the city council signed off on a development agreement with a Bellevue developer to build an 18-story residential building with 349 units. The project was announced in February and will stand 187 feet tall, making it the second tallest in the county behind the Providence Medical Center in north Everett. The building will tower over the intersection of I-5, I-405, and SR 525 on the east side of Alderwood Mall along one of the best non-park and ride transit corridors in the city, with local buses coming every 20 minutes and one-seat rides to Downtown Bellevue.
Compared to the year-long (sometimes years-long) design review and development process for projects in Seattle, this fast-track approval feels like a breath of fresh air for a region in a very real housing emergency. Lynnwood’s general attitude towards this project, compared to another 400-unit project along Highway 99, bodes well for a city with ambitions to be the “next Bellevue”, complete with gleaming high-rises in its new downtown.