The site of Mountlake Terrace’s “Terrace Station” project, seen from a passing bus

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.

79 Replies to “Large Residential Projects Approved by Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace”

  1. How many parking spaces per bedroom do these developments have? And how many floors of the Lynnwood Tower are going to be consumed by parking?

    1. >> And how many floors of the Lynnwood Tower are going to be consumed by parking?

      One, according to the article. Yeah, I was kind of surprised. One level of (underground) parking, ground floor retail, and 16 floors of residential, ranging in size from one to three stories. From the looks of it, there will be some space on the surface for parking. If that turns out to be significant, then it would make this a lot less impressive than it sounds. What is clear, though, is that the folks who are building this really are trying to “bring a more urban environment to the area”, which I think is laudable. It is quite possible that much of the surface parking shown in the picture is simply other lots that could later have similar developments.

      1. In this case, surface parking is good, because it can be redeveloped once Lynnwood has the multi-modal infrastructure (Link, SWIFT3, etc.) to support more density. Urban neighborhoods don’t just emerge fully formed.

      2. I read the article. I agree – for Capital Hill, 395 parking spaces for 349 living units + retail, would be disappointment. But, for Lynnwood, it’s as low as one can reasonably expect.

  2. 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.

    And if you stood every person end to end, it would reach to the moon!

    Seriously though, the comparison is pointless. I get it. Mountlake Terrace is small. Not that many people live there. So what? The ratio between the housing in this little corner of the city and the rest of it is meaningless. If the borders of the city were even smaller, would it make this project more impressive?

    A much more meaningful analysis would be to figure out the population density of the area, and see how it compares to the rest of the region. That is a bit tricky, of course, but let me do my own napkin math. As of the last census count, that census block had 1,329 people. Adding 900 people would be a big increase, about 2/3. The current density of that block is 4,633.9 per square mile. So an increase of 2/3 would mean that the area would have a little less than 8,000 people per square mile. That is a significant improvement, but low compared to most of Seattle (below dozens of blocks in Seattle that won’t have stations).

    Looking at an areal view (https://goo.gl/maps/FaUMJMsQPfS2) the situation doesn’t get any better. The park takes up a good chunk of the land near the station, but the big problem is the freeway. The nearest house to the west is this one, a seven minute walk: https://goo.gl/maps/bgaFvqZrod82. Of course the golf course doesn’t help.

    When all is said and done, very few people will be able to easily walk to this station. The only way that would change is if they really did build Vancouver style towers there.

    1. Oh, and Alderwood Mall has more potential, and the tower will definitely help, but it isn’t clear where exactly the station will be. If, as I assume, it abuts the freeway, then once again about half your potential walk-up ridership is gone. When all is said and done, and a handful of big towers dot the sky, it is quite possible that the potential walk-up ridership is still lower than an average spot in Seattle. A place like 8th and Market, for example, is not at all high density. It would be by far the lowest density stop on a Ballard to UW subway. But it is still about 12,000 people per square mile, and you can go in every direction to find people. That means that the Alderwood Mall area would have to be over 24,000 people per square mile to compete. That could happen, I just doubt it will.

    2. The point was that the suburbs are making the kind of good investments at stations that Seattle seems to be missing, especially in the Rainier Valley or even at Capitol Hill, with the TOD project having far too much parking and far too few units.

      1. Unfortunately, your point is wrong, and you used a ridiculous argument to support it. By every reasonable measure, Seattle has way more density and will continue to have way more density long after they build a couple apartments close to the suburban station. When places like Mountlake Terrace are finally “built out”, and all the shiny new building are constructed, there still won’t be very many people living next to the station. It won’t even be close to a typical area in Seattle that *doesn’t* have a station, let alone a place like Capitol Hill, the U-District or Roosevelt (just to mention three places that happen to be in a row).

        Let me just repeat the crux of your argument again:

        For a city of 21,000 people, the addition of 600 transit-oriented units is a huge deal.

        No, no it is not. It only means that the city is very small. Either it had very little density to begin with, or it just doesn’t have much land. In this case it is both. This is like an amateur runner bragging about his personal best. I’m glad you are happy, but that doesn’t mean you will be in the next Olympics. You are still slow; just not as slow as you were before.

        The point was that the suburbs are making the kind of good investments at stations that Seattle seems to be missing

        Surely you must have driven by the Roosevelt station. You can even see the changes from Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/2D71mqRY2ww. Notice not only the new buildings, but the sign (full of graffiti) showing that there is more to come. This is in area that had more density 8 years ago then the Mountlake Terrace station will when they build the “huge deal” apartments. You seem to be excited because Mountlake Terrace just bench pressed 100 pounds, while Roosevelt was doing 120 years ago, and is now somewhere over 250.

        As far as Capitol Hill goes, it already has density. Even with the college you have over 40,000 people per square mile there. A couple blocks away, in the Summit neighborhood, you have 66,000 people per square mile, showing once again that you don’t need new towers to build density. (There are neighborhoods in Brooklyn with nothing but three story buildings that are as dense as anything in Washington State). Did you really think they were going to tear down the college and build Toronto style towers?

        But I get it. You want tall. OK, how about 24 stories, within a couple blocks of the U-District Station (https://www.seattleinprogress.com/project/3028621). This is *in addition to* the six-story boxes that are common in the area, and the old buildings that have plenty of density to begin with (see last paragraph). Of course you don’t see that everywhere — because it is already very dense. You are only going to gain so much by tearing down a building like this: https://goo.gl/maps/RfvL4pcsrc42 to build something bigger. Speaking of which, what did the builders of that apartment in Mountlake Terrace replace anyway? Was it a two story apartment building? Was it a set of row houses? Right, I didn’t think so.

        Oh, and as far as Rainier Valley goes, it has seen growth: https://goo.gl/maps/LgjoxPr7j4w, https://goo.gl/maps/5mNVt8xZXNU2, https://goo.gl/maps/hNJQRVM5Nxp. Those are just the changes that Google Maps managed to track. If you look at the Seattle in Progress website (https://www.seattleinprogress.com/) you can see dozens of new projects in the works there. Just look at the west side of Othello. Within a couple blocks you have a building with 145 units (https://www.seattleinprogress.com/project/3019452), 174 units (https://www.seattleinprogress.com/project/3027372) and 45 units (https://www.seattleinprogress.com/project/3027345). That is all one side of one station. On the other side there are actually more projects. Those are just the big ones. There are a bunch of new townhouses going in. This is in an area that struggles with a contentious and complicated situation that comes in part, from Sound Transit https://thecisforcrank.com/2017/09/07/why-are-there-so-many-vacant-properties-near-rainier-beach-light-rail-station/). Blame Seattle if you want, but that is an unusual situation that just happened to hit that one area. Obviously it didn’t effect Columbia City or Othello.

        In any event, while growth is happening there, it will likely increase as soon as the city council approves the latest zoning changes: https://seattlecitygis.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=d3425fef5b884c29a710761c163b347a.

        I think you just have your numbers and your facts backwards. Kudos for Mountlake Terrace for allowing some construction next to the station. Seattle has allowed that for years. For all its faults, Seattle has had “urban villages” in various parts of the city. Those are the places that have grown very fast — much faster than the suburbs. That is by every measure as well, but certainly by the measure that matters most (people per area). Not only did those places in Seattle start out a lot more densely populated, but they have increased their lead over the handful of suburban places that have seen growth.

  3. The best part of Terrace Station? Someone is finally knocking down that field of scotchbroom! The worst part? Only 5 stories. It really should be significantly higher.

    And what’s the deal with the silly 4% calculation? This project is in phases so the actual growth rate will be much smaller. For comparison, Seattle is growing at an annual rate of 2.5 to 3.5% every year. This equates to about 20,000 people per year or the addition of about one city of Mountlake every year. Clearly Seattle is pulling its weight, Mountlake Terrace isn’t.

    But at least this is a step in the right direction. I just wish it was more.

    1. Yes, I agree! Five stories is just one floor taller than many McMansions!

      Even for a developer, the loss of upper story views and the additional cost of a cable elevator often makes a per unit profit lower than a taller building would (and motivates a developer to charge higher rent to make a profit).

      1. As I noted in another comment, the zoning allows up to 8 stories and even taller (12-20) with TDR. So it’s interesting that the developer elected to stick with 6.

      2. That sucks. The city council was actually more enlightened than the developer? That’s a first. Does the developer think that only 200 people are being displaced from King County? You could fill tens of thousands of units right at the county border next to a Link station that’s only 5-15 minutes away from Northgate and UW.

    2. 5 stories are cheaper and easier to do. Buildings with 4 stories of wood-frame over a concrete first floor have been around for years and it seems that wood-frame can be used for 5 stories. The Marselle in Seattle is 5 stories of wood-frame over 2 stories of concrete.

      1. Yeah, I’m sure that was the issue. It just isn’t worth building at 8, since it only gives you an extra couple of stories, but you can’t use wood. Twenty stories is usually worth it though, but maybe not there, and not when you factor in the cost of the TDR required.

      2. Seattle zoning allows wood frame up to 7 stories. Don’t know about Mountlake Terrace, but this is clearly a missed opportunity.

      3. It isn’t zoning exactly, it the nature of wood construction. They are building the biggest wooden structure they can, which, depending on how you measure it, is five or six stories. One of which is cement, the rest are wood. It the same size as most of the big buildings that go up in Seattle: https://goo.gl/maps/EwchEuaTtc22. In some cases, the land slopes, so of course they add more concrete, and that can add another floor, but that is about it unless you change materials. There has been some work done with special wood laminates, but oddly enough (since this is Washington) that isn’t legal here. That means that if you want to build a couple stories higher, then you have to use steel, and that is much more expensive.

        There is a whole article about the subject on The Urbanist — https://www.theurbanist.org/2014/09/02/85-foot-and-125-foot-height-limits-are-a-missed-opportunity/. I have no idea if there are FAR limits in Mountlake Terrace, but my guess is it is irrelevant, and the issue is more about material, rather than bulk (which is the covered in first part of the article).

  4. 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.

    When Lynnwood Link finishes, I would imagine service along there would be better than every 20 minutes. I am not sure about the one seat ride to Bellevue though. ST has been pretty vague about what will happen once I-405 BRT is built, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they killed the 535. Hard to say, really. On the one hand, I could see it changing to an express from Lynnwood to Bellevue, skipping all the stations except Totem Lake and 85th NE. If they did that, though, they might reverse the routing in Lynnwood, to favor the station over the mall area. Otherwise you would have a very weird situation if you were considering a trip from the Lynnwood TC to Bellevue. You can take the BRT, but see it stop several times, possibly getting stuck in traffic as it exited the freeway using general purpose lanes. Or you could take the “express” that drives through city streets for a while. Hard to say which is faster, which is why I think they would be better off reversing the tail of the 535. That way Alderwood Mall residents would still have a one seat ride to Bellevue (during rush hour) while Lynnwood TC users would have an obvious choice for trips to Bellevue (take the 535 when it is running, take the BRT when it isn’t).

    1. If they’re talking about the stretch between the transit center and the east side of the mall, that’s not really frequent transit that people can get to without transferring, generally from a half hour to hourly Community Transit local bus. Since pretty much nobody in Lynnwood will be able to walk to the station or the east side of the mall, and since the park and ride lot will fill up by 7:30, Community Transit had *better* beef up their local bus service. Unfortunately, it looks like they might be putting all their added bus hours into SWIFT.

      1. If they’re talking about the stretch between the transit center and the east side of the mall, that’s not really frequent transit that people can get to without transferring, generally from a half hour to hourly Community Transit local bus.

        Transfer to where? I guess I’m a bit confused. Assuming that Community Transit just left things alone, then the following serves the area:

        196 — Half hour bus that connects to Edmonds Community College and Edmonds itself (thus crossing SR 99 and Swift). Since this well named bus runs on 196th, it would be about a 8 minute walk to Lynnwood TC (give or take).

        115 — Half hour bus that connects to Mill Creek, Ash Way, Mountlake Terrace and more importantly, directly to the Lynnwood TC. It also connects to Edmonds CC and Swift.

        116 — Another half hour bus that starts at Mill Creek, runs to the Lynnwood TC, then keeps going to Edmonds.

        So basically you have three half hour buses that can get you to Edmonds, Edmonds CC or SR 99. You have two buses that can get you directly to the transit center, and a third that can get you close. That means if you are headed to Seattle, chances are you won’t have to wait too long for a direct bus, and if you do, you could always pick up the 196 and walk a ways to the TC.

        But of course things will change once Link gets to Lynnwood. Community Transit will have lots of extra service money to spread around to other buses, with Swift money being completely separate. I have no idea what things will look like, but I would imagine that particular area would not only see more service, but more predictable service. Right now the average wait isn’t that bad, but if you are unlucky, you could wait a while.

        Oh, and when I say “half hour” I mean half hour in the day. None of these have very good night time service.

      2. To understand why the 535 goes by Alderwood Mall, rather than just getting on the freeway at Lynnwood Transit Center, one must first observe that the HOV/bus ramp which serves the transit center does not permit access to I-405. The reason is that it merges with I-5 in the center lane, and doesn’t allow enough time for the bus to get all the way over to the right.

        So, a bus that didn’t serve Alderwood Mall would still have to fight general-purpose traffic down 196th, and wait at all the stoplights and use the ramp there. If you’re going to all that, serving the mall adds barely any running at all – especially since Alderwood Mall Parkway avoids most of the busy interchanges with a bridge over 196th St.

        Whether it will necessary to have peak-hour overlays for the BRT route, we’ll have to see, but my guess would be “no”, at least for the Lynnwood->Bellevue corridor. ST3 includes money to convert sections of the I-405 shoulder into bus lanes, particularly the area around Brickyard P&R and Canyon Park Freeway stations. Everett->Bellevue will probably continue to see a separate route (peak hours only), since it eats up too much time to detour to Lynnwood, and transfer to the other bus.

      3. >> The reason is that it merges with I-5 in the center lane, and doesn’t allow enough time for the bus to get all the way over to the right.

        Seriously? It is a mile and a half to move over three lanes (there are two exit lanes). In the reverse direction it would be harder, as a bus would have to move over four lanes.

        Oh, wait. I just realized that the state doesn’t allow it. The HOV lane is isolated from the general purpose lane, and you can’t get into the other lanes (to exit) until after the I-405 interchange. Holy smoke, the “BRT” line will be slow (just as it is already). Basically, nothing is being done to deal with the slowest parts of the current route except that it won’t serve the college or the mall. It removes the second and fourth most popular stops of the 535, while adding freeway stops at Brickyard and NE 85th. You make a very good case for serving the mall (might as well, since you have to drive the surface streets anyway) but that isn’t the plan (https://www.soundtransit.org/sites/default/files/BRT_I-405-1.pdf). Even if this will mean off board payment and more frequency, I just don’t see this as being very popular. It certainly won’t be fast.

        Speaking of which, if the I-405 shoulder by Brickyard is turned into an HOV lane, it would help, but that still means that a bus needs to get out of the main HOV lane and into the shoulder HOV lane. Even if they added a curb lane that was HOV all the way from Lynnwood to Bellevue it wouldn’t work, as a bus would pass by several exits. By the way, is that really the plan, to have HOV lanes on the left and right side of the road? They also aren’t adding freeway stations (other than 85th). So while the exiting might be a little bit better, a bus still needs to get out of the HOV lane, move over several lanes (hopefully to another HOV lane) then exit, possibly wait for a traffic light, get back on the freeway (hopefully in an HOV lane) and move through more general purpose lanes until it is in the HOV lane. It will do this for Canyon Lake, 195th and Brickyard.

        I agree about Everett to Bellevue — I wouldn’t expect them to ask everyone to transfer. But I was thinking that it would make sense for folks from Ash Way, since that stop costs Everett riders a lot in time. But it sounds like Lynnwood faces the same issue. Whether or not they stop by Alderwood, it will be slow going from Lynnwood to I-405 so if an Ash Way rider has to go down to Lynnwood, then they will have to come back on surface streets to get on the freeway anyway. Yuck.

        Which makes me wonder about the entire project. I understand the reasoning behind the NE 85th station, but it seems like it is a lot less important than building ramps between the HOV lanes of I-405 and I-5. Even just a bus only ramp from Lynnwood that put you in the rightmost general purpose lane of northbound I-5 would be a big improvement. In peak direction (Lynnwood to Bellevue in the morning) it would actually be fairly fast, since that direction (I-5 north) is reverse commute (and fast). That would mean that the most popular trip would be much faster. Even reverse commuters (e. g. Lynnwood to Bellevue in the evening) would probably come out ahead versus going on the surface streets.

        Of course I would rather that WSDOT pay for all of that (just as I would with the NE 85th station project) but even if ST pays for it, it seems like a better value.

      4. I’m thinking more in terms of people who live in the Lynnwood area. It’s a transfer from a half-hourly-at-best bus (hourly weekends and evenings) to get to the frequent transit. Sure, it counts as a solid “non park and ride transit corridor” but it won’t help you as much if you live in one of the numerous apartment and condo complexes 1-2 miles away. Ah, suburbia… One can hope for a frequent network connecting the transit center, “downtown” Lynnwood, and surrounding neighborhoods, but I’m not sure that is the plan. Of course, even increasing the Community Transit local routes from 30 to 20 minutes during the day would be a solid improvement. Perhaps it’s getting ahead of ourselves, but it doesn’t hurt to push for it in CT/Lynnwood meetings ect. during the next 6 years, I guess.

      5. @B — Oh, yes, absolutely. We are talking about two different things, which is why there was confusion. Most of Lynnwood — including many apartments on big corridors — has only half hour service. Alderwood Mall Way (where this new big building will be) is an exception.

        But I expect things to get better for many people, when the truncations come. But just as Seattle didn’t have the density to afford good bus service to much of the city until recently, I’m afraid Lynnwood will probably be in the same boat. We’ll see if folks want spend a bunch of money improving the bus service like they did in Seattle.

        When I look a the system, it seems like the biggest weakness overall is night time service. This can really hammer overall ridership. If your bus stops running after 10:00 PM (or runs every hour after 8:00) you are way more likely to just drive.

      6. For reasons you mentioned, I don’t see the 532 making any significant changes. Those from Everett are just going to have to suck it up and deal with the stoplights getting in and out of Ash Way, because it’s still much faster than any alternative options the transit system provides.

        At the time I wrote my previous comment, I didn’t realize that the BRT route would skip Alderwood Mall. Now, a trip from Alderwood Mall to Bellevue is going to be one of trips where half an hour after you begin, you look out the window from the freeway and see the building you started at. As you said, if there existed a bus ramp to quickly get to a lane of I-5 that can access 405, it would start to make sense, but there doesn’t.

        As to Brickyard, however, I did look at the documents, and the shoulder lane is intended to be bus-only, not general HOV. Yes, buses will still have to cut over across all the general-purpose lanes, but even if traffic is stop-and-go, getting from an HOV lane on one side to a bus lane on the other shouldn’t take more than a minute or two.

      1. Once driverless vehicles come into being, I think half hour buses will be rare in general. In most cities, I would expect anywhere from 5 to 15 minute service on all the busy corridors. No need to make the buses deviate willy-nilly, either — when you run every five minutes, the transfers are painless. It could easily become the biggest breakthrough in public transportation in 100 years. Of course if reactionary extremists and a new emboldened oligarchy control things, it could die on the vine, while “private enterprise” continues to provide most of our transportation needs. We seem to be heading towards both fairly quickly (These are the days of miracle and wonder …).

      2. Yes, but it won’t be soon enough to help this generation so we’ll need something else in the meantime. 2025 is just not realistic. Maybe a few limited and conflict-light corridors can come earlier, and 10 mph shuttles like a few cities have in woonerfs, but not on every Metro route and not on complicated streets like Jackson and 45th. Each route street has to be very precisely mapped, which requires significant time and expense, so the thought that Metro with its budget will be able to do it in 200 corridors in five years is unrealistic.

        Maybe it could go hand in hand with transit lanes, and be the catalyst to finally get them. Because bus-only lanes would significantly decrease the number of random car movements and other things the bus would encounter, and there could be raised bumps to discourage cars from straying into the lane.

  5. Relative to many other suburban cities with their NIMBY-ism, I am happy to see Mountlake Terrace looking to the future. This is in-line with their mandate for electric vehicle charging stations to be installed in all new parking lots. We can’t just cling to the past. I’m delighted that elected officials in relatively sleepy little suburbs can gather enough inertia to move their cities forward, even if it is a little bit slow.

    All that being said, this is setting the stage for that private golf course at the other side of I-5 to redevelop in the future. It is owned by the Shriners, a charity. They are sitting on a gold mine and, I suspect, they know it. Best for them to wait this out and sell at the highest possible price once light rail is nearly complete, so they can do the greatest good with their assets. I’d be very surprised if the Shriner’s golf course doesn’t become an intense mixed use development at around the same time that the station opens.

    1. Gold mine? I don’t know. I mean, sure, anyone with a lot of property in the greater Puget Sound area is sitting on a lot of wealth, especially if they allow it to be fully developed. But this is still on the other side of the freeway from the station. Any place close to the station would have to be very close to the freeway to be a short walk, and most of this would be a long walk there. I think it is quite possible that they will develop that area, but I don’t think it is like the developments close to the Roosevelt station, which are a short (and relatively pleasant) walk to the station.

      1. That being said, the more I think about it, the more I think it would be an appealing place for many people, as long as they provide enough parking. The place has very quick access to the freeway (especially southbound). That, and a nice walk to Lake Ballinger would appeal to a lot of people.

      2. You don’t think people will be willing to walk 15 minutes to a Link station? It’s basically the same distance from a Link station as the UW Quad. IMO, the northern half of the course is easily within the station walk shed.

      3. >> You don’t think people will be willing to walk 15 minutes to a Link station?

        There will be a few, just not that many. There have been studies, which I haven’t read, but others have passed on to the lay public (http://humantransit.org/2010/11/san-francisco-a-rational-stop-spacing-plan.html). Basically, there aren’t that many people who will walk to a stop if it is more than 400 meters, which is just a little bit past the on-ramp. People will walk farther to a stop that is fast and frequent — up to about 1,000 meters. Link could be considered this (sort of), and this would put part of the area you are talking about into range.

        But the quality of the walk matters. Since this is on the other side, it is unpleasant. People from the Town Center seem more likely to walk to the station for that reason.

        Alternatives matter as well. If you are headed anywhere on the UW campus, it is a challenge. If you drive, you will encounter slow speeds, all day long. Simply finding parking will be hard, and possibly expensive. For many, the UW station is about as good as they can get. It also stands to reason that many of the people who are headed to that station simply don’t own a car. Renting a car or calling a cab is thus a lot more expensive, and a lot bigger of a hassle, even if it might save a few minutes.

        On the other hand, an apartment in the golf course would be closer to the on-ramp than the station. It is highly likely that people there will have cars. Some may be willing to spend an extra fifteen minutes getting to the station, but many will consider that too much of a burden. For many, it will simply make more sense to drive. For others, it will make more sense to wait for a bus.

      4. Half of campus is closer to U-District Station, and it’s a more pleasant walk in between (no highways), and a chance to do errands on the Ave that you’d have to do anyway.

      5. What matters is congestion and parking at both the departure and destination. Your argument in favor of UW is the exact reason why someone traveling between MT & UW will take the train. Frankly, it’s kinda laughable that you point to I5 and say, “gee, I can’t imagine why someone would take the train if they can just drive on the freeway.” The fact that I5 is horrible to drive on most hours of they day is the entire reason we are building Link.

        Yes, if parking is free and congestion is light, people will drive. That true regardless of how well designed a station is, and therefore not particularly interesting.

        This is also why there isn’t HCT between Shoreline CC and Lake Forest Park … that’s a pretty easy drive with ample parking on both ends.

      6. @AJ — Nice straw man. I never said “gee, I can’t imagine why someone would take the train if they can just drive on the freeway” — quite the opposite. I clearly said some people would take the train. Must I repeat the entire argument all over again, or would you rather just make up crap and pretend I wrote it?

        We aren’t even talking about whether people will take the train, but how many people 15 minutes away *from the Montlake Terrace Station* will take the train. Those are two different things.

        Let me give you a typical scenario. Let’s say I live 15 minutes away (by foot) from the Montlake Terrace station. Assume I work at the Pac Med clinic at Northgate. It is only a seven minute walk from the future station (https://goo.gl/maps/9FKYKme7Erz). Work starts at 8:00, so traffic is heavy. If I walk to the station, that means I spend 22 minutes a day just getting back and forth from the station. Even with the train moving faster on the way in, it is usually faster to drive. If I value my time, I’m finding some other way to get there. Now imagine I work different hours, or have a medical appointment in the middle of the day. Driving becomes even more appealing.

        You don’t have that situation with a trip from Capitol Hill to the UW. It isn’t just parking — it is very slow to make that drive all day long. Again, it is also far more likely that someone in Montlake Terrace has a car than someone in Capitol Hill.

        That is part of the reason why so many people drive from the suburbs. It is easy, it is convenient, and quite often, it is faster. It is why every urban transit system in the world is more popular than the corresponding commuter rail. No matter how nice they make the transit to the suburbs — no matter how densely they populate the areas around the station — it still isn’t the city.

      7. I’ll stick with making stuff up. Just kidding.

        I see what you are saying, and yes it’s not as transformative as UW-Cap Hill. And if the commute is indeed to Northgate, then sure driving might make more sense. But for downtown and the UW, I think the time & cost savings will more than offset a 15 minute walk for most able-bodied people.

      8. When I committed to Bellevue, I always drove because it was only 15 minutes. it didn’t matter how good Transit was, I’d always drive because it’s 15 minutes. But when I work in Seattle, I either carpool or take the bus because driving is brutal. Taking the bus is actually slower than driving, but it’s so much less stressful I prefer it.

        In summary, downtown is much more likely to induce Transit trips if people can access pretty good transit

      9. “that means I spend 22 minutes a day just getting back and forth from the station”

        That’s the fallacy of treating 15 minutes of walking before and after work each day, like it’s wasted time. But, the human body is built to move, and people especially those sitting at a desk job everyday, need some amount of movement for their health. In fact, if you want to talk in terms of efficiency, it takes far less time over all to walk 15 minutes to a train to go to work each day, than it does to drive to work, drive home, and then make another trip to drive to the gym and back.

        The fact that so many people don’t realize this, and assume the ideal life is the sedentary one where all hours of all days are spent sitting at home, sitting at work, sitting in a car, is a major contributor to the country’s obesity epidemic.

  6. Mountlake Terrace changed the zoning on that site prior to this project coming through to allow up to 8 stories without any TDR and up to 12/20 stories with TDR (a portion is 12 and another portion is 20). So it’s not necessarily the City that is limiting it to the planned 6 stories.

    Also important to note that the City’s Town Center zone is east of the station and allows up to 7 stories. This plan was developed about a decade ago with some minor changes since then. The City is currently undergoing a process to update it which may change the boundaries and/or building heights. http://cityofmlt.com/DocumentCenter/View/10021/Town-Center-Building-Districts-Map

    1. Interesting. What does the “Type” designation mean? For example, in District A, it has “Type 1: Seven Story Building, … Type 3: Four Story Building, etc.).

      1. Cool. It looks like there is more to it than height, though. Basically it means that within a particular district, you have a range of types. You can’t build high unless you have a big lot. Bigger buildings require a setback. The FAR changes for each height, but not in the way I would expect — they set a minimum, but not a maximum.

    2. I’ve walked from the Mountake Terrace freeway station to the Mountlake Terrace town center before. It’s closer than it looks, since there are paths which cut diagonally through the park. Right now, of course, it isn’t much of a town center – just single-story development, with more space devoted to parking lots than actual buildings. But, in theory, that could change, somebody, if autonomous vehicles manage to make the traditional notion of parking lots obsolete.

      1. Right, it’s seven or eight minutes from the current bus bays through the park to the library if I remember, maybe ten. I timed it a few years ago when the station was being planned. It’s fine unless you’re disabled and can’t walk on the uneven ground, then you have to walk the longer way around 236th, but I think that still took less than fifteen or twenty minutes. There was going to be a civic center complex next to the library but that was voted down. I was disappointed that the rest of the buildings on 56th were only 2-3 stories, but still, there’s the future.

      2. There was another vote for the City Hall last year that passed. It’s being designed now and construction planned in 2019. https://nextmlt.com/posts/design-process-begins-on-the-new-civic-campus

        Also, Sound Transit and the city’s just approved an agreement for $2 million in access funding and some of this will go towards paving and lighting the trail throughout Veterans Park up to the Library/City Hall and make it accesible. https://nextmlt.com/posts/city-identifies-paving-veterans-trail-236th-plaza-for-sound-transit-funding

        Additionally, the City’s Main Street project will be rebuilding 236th over the next year with wide sidewalks so it that should be a more comfortable walk. https://nextmlt.com/posts/main-street-project-hits-the-street

        I mentioned this previously but there is also a large effort underway to update the zoning in the the neighborhood: https://nextmlt.com/posts/town-center-workshop-may-15

    3. What’s most disappointing in that map is that MLT isn’t rezoning almost any of the single family housing south of the station/236th and West of 56th. Some of those houses are incredibly close to the new station, and with the development in the article providing a sound shield from I-5, the blocks between it and 56th would be prime apartment space.

      1. There has been plenty of discussions about rezoning that area. It likely will be in the future. Also, a good chance the area south of 232nd just east of I-5 will be rezoned at some point. There are a couple of culdesacs. There is a trail spur off of 60th that comes down through Veteran’s Park to the Transit Center.

      2. That makes sense. That northern portion is very close to the station (it just needs a path). My guess is there is a path there, it just isn’t known by Google.

        One nice thing about zoning rules — it isn’t that difficult to change them (unlike station placement).

  7. Good for MT and Lynnwood.

    “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.”

    The missed opportunity here was when Sound Transit stripped out the additional two northern stations (Alderwood and Ash Way) in the revision of the ST2 north corridor extension from the 2007 version to the 2008 proposal.

    1. Have the city and the mall owner thought about reserving right of way for Link into the center of the neighborhood? That would make it more likely to happen, would convince ST to follow that course, and would save ST money in acquiring property.

  8. Meanwhile in Northgate a new parking garage is being built. Drumroll!! Good job Seattle. #sarcasm

    Whiny voice: but its replacement parking!

    1. Mountlake Terrace opted not to build any additional parking for the Link station, deciding that the existing garage is sufficient and that a few lost surface spaces was fine. It speaks a lot to their priorities.

      1. Is any city actually building park and ride lots? I just assumed that Sound Transit or Metro is building them. Seattle certainly isn’t.

    2. The garage has to be rebuilt because the station will displace the old garage. Many of the parking spaces are contractually obligated to mall tenants in leases, and ST would be sued if it didn’t replace them. Of the additional spaces beyond that, there aren’t many of them, because the surrounding neighborhoods said they wanted better bus feeders and ped/bike access rather than parking spaces, and a survey showed that most of the existing cars come from the neighborhoods west and east of Northgate (Licton Springs and Maple Leaf), showing that there’s currently a last-mile problem in getting to the station.

      1. If I remember right there was a federal law involved, too. In other words, they couldn’t just have the train replace parking.

      2. For clarification, a second parking garage on the existing surface lot was a candidate project during the ST2 process but fortunately didn’t score well. It didn’t make it in to ST3 either. I’d love to say that our Council and Staff had something to do with it but they have actually lobbied for more parking at the Transit Center. There are plenty of loud community members who have done the same.

      3. I still appreciate the message and clarification, Dustin. So again, ST is the one building park and ride lots, not the cities. Mountlake Terrace wanted more parking, but was shot down. Seattle wanted less parking at Northgate, but was shot down.

        I realize Bruce and RGW want to find a suburban hero, and some evil anti-growth Seattle process, but that isn’t what is happening. Mountlake Terrace should be applauded for allowing more apartments, and for being willing to live with less parking. Some suburbs would have fought tooth and nail on both fronts. But that doesn’t mean that their leadership is more progressive than Seattle when it comes to urban development in general, or TOD specifically. It is simply that in terms of policy they are closer to Seattle than most suburbs.

      4. Seattle wasn’t shot down. The P&R is smaller than it would have been than if the community had given the usual response, “Yes, more parking!!!”

        Mountlake Terrace probably got shot down because the main P&R in Lynnwood is so close, , and Mountlake Terrace is getting a station only because it’s on the way.

        This is all coming out of 1990s inertia: the P&Rs and stations are at Northgate, 145th, Mountlake Terrace, and downtown Lynnwood — and 522 BRT is at 145th — because that’s where the legacy P&Rs and transfer stations are, and those were the assumptions when ST’s long-range plan was drawn up in the 1990s.

      5. >> Seattle wasn’t shot down. The P&R is smaller than it would have been than if the community had given the usual response.

        You are missing the point, Mike. Seattle wanted *less* parking, while Mountlake Terrace wanted *more*. In both cases, they didn’t give the cities what they wanted. They gave us more than what we wanted, and gave Mountlake Terrace less.

        My point, therefore, is twofold. One, it isn’t just up to the city (ST has the final say) and two, we wanted less parking, while Mountlake Terrace wanted more.

        I agree with your point about inertia. Just the station location at Northgate is all inertia. It made sense when a bus could just get on the freeway right there. Now it doesn’t (but it is much cheaper than if we put it somewhere else).

      6. “I realize Bruce and RGW want to find a suburban hero… Mountlake Terrace should be applauded for allowing more apartments”

        There are several factors, not all going in the same direction. Mountlake Terrace should be applauded for starting to turn its city around and becoming part of the solution to housing more people within walking distance of high-capacity transit.

        And Community Transit has an excellent long range plan, and will recycle the thousands of hours from truncating the express buses into frequent feeders, including three Swift lines by 2024 (Everett Station – 185th, Paine Field – Canyon Park, Edmonds – Lynnwood TC – Mill Creek – Silver Firs), and two more on the drawing boards (Smokey Point and 128th Street), and other corridors with 15-minute daytime service.

        The suburbs are willing to build larger contiguous midrise clusters like the Spring District, Totem Lake, and downtown Lynnwood. And you can say, “Ballard is already larger than the Spring District” but that misses the point: it’s new urban villages or major expansions. Seattle is doing nothing like that except in SLU. Capitol Hill station: 7 stories, one building on. Northgate: 200 feet on the mall lot but not on the surrounding lots, and the mall may not even build to the zoning limit. Mt Baker: 85′ next to the station but dropping to 40′ just two blocks away. Beacon Hill: nothing at all except what La Rasa volunteered to do on its own land. That’s where the suburbs are ahead of Seattle. Where’s the Lake City upzone that could rival the Spring District? Maybe someday.

        But these suburban clusters look less impressive when you look at the rest of the city they’re in. This is where the “Mountlake Terrace is low density almost everywhere” comes in.

      7. This has more to do with the fact that MLT has very little undeveloped land and so much residential (62% SF, 37% MF, 1% mobile homes) but MLT is actually the 3rd most dense city in the state after Seattle and Mattawa with over 5,300 residents per square mile. We still have a lot of growth we can do, especially in in the Town Center and Station area.

      8. That’s another part of it: none of the suburbs are willing to upzone their single-family areas, so all density is squeezed into the 30% of land that’s reserved for everything else. Seattle is considering allowing ADUs and townhouses in its single-family areas but the suburbs won’t even do that, not even in a few inner neighborhoods. Bellevue’s densification exempted NE 8th Street between downtown and Crossroads, west of 100th, Surrey Downs, etc. Shoreline is allowing a rectangle of density with a low-density core. Mountlake Terrace is not doing anything east of 56th. I can understand why, because the majority of voters are single-family homeowners and they don’t want multifamily or townhouses on their block. But that basically puts them in absolute control of the city, so everything else has to revolve around them. That becomes illogical when single-family areas are so close to downtowns, Link stations, Swift stations, RapidRide stations, etc. I don’t care about the far corners like Lake Sammamish Parkway, Lake Washington Blvd, darkest Laurelhurst, Ballard north of 85th, etc, but the area inside the outermost urban villages and high/medium-capacity transit lines should be more like Boston or Chicago, especially with this housing crisis.

      9. Mountlake Terrace allows ADUs in all single family zones. They also allow cottage housing Andy duplexes though minimum lot size requirement so make these not very feasible.

      10. Come on Mike, get your facts straight. You’re usually better than this. On specific bits of urban policy, Seattle is rarely the most progressive city in the region

        “suburbs won’t even do that” – incorrect, depends on the suburb. I believe most of East King allows ADUs in some form: http://www.archhousing.org/current-residents/adu-zoning-information.html

        Here is Issaquah, duplexes and ADUs have been legal on the valley floor for a long time, including all of our historic SF neighborhoods in & around Olde Towne. In the past few weeks, as a part of our affordable housing strategy we’ve been looking at streamlining our ADUs permitting process to help encourage more ADUs, and we’re considering spending a small amount of city money on outreach & training to remind people they can build ADUs and help them navigate the permitting process.

        “none of the suburbs are willing to upzone their single-family areas” – also not true. If Shoreline’s upzone of their two station areas from SF zoning to MF zoning isn’t an example of disrupting a existing, built-out SF neighborhood, I don’t know what is. Recall the new articles about Shoreline homeowners coordinating to sell contiguous lots to developers:
        example: http://kuow.org/post/these-shoreline-neighbors-have-been-rezoned-they-have-plan

        “Bellevue’s densification exempted NE 8th Street between downtown and Crossroads” – right, because east of 124th St, NE 8th isn’t anywhere close to a future Link station; why would it be upzoned? It’s mostly multifamily already. West of 124th, a major upzone has been proposed because that’s within the Wilburton station walkshed.

        Sure, Surrey Downs is a bummer, but it’s not that different than Northgate ending abruptly south of 95th. And the zoning for buildings on 112th right next to Surrey Downs is much, much higher than the majority of Seattle’s Link station areas.

      11. Adding to AJ’s retort to Mike Orr’s rather silly assertion:

        “That’s another part of it: none of the suburbs are willing to upzone their single-family areas, so all density is squeezed into the 30% of land that’s reserved for everything else.”

        This also isn’t true in Snohomish County. The last comp plan update (in 2015 I believe) saw dozens of tracts upzoned for higher density. [My own property in the SW UGA has been upzoned twice in the 15 years I have owned it as a result of the two most recent updates to the county’s comp plan. It has gone from low density residential (SF R-8400) at the time of purchase to high density residential (MF) today.]

        Anecdotally, it’s easy to see the changes in SW SnoCo as there are townhomes and other MF structures going up all over the place. But for actual evidence to refute your assertions, all one needs to do is review the last two Future Land Use Maps (FLUM’s) produced by the county as part of these comp plan updates.

        https://snohomishcountywa.gov/2139/Comprehensive-Plan

    3. The people of Seattle didn’t want to build the park and ride. They fought against it. Don’t blame them. #StopMakingAssumptionsDude

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