Link Light Rail in Seattle’s neighborhoods
The vision of the Rainier Beach community is to create an "enjoyable, affordable, and prosperous community," while sustaining the community's diversity and natural beauty (Rainier Beach 2014 Neighborhood Plan). Central to realizing this vision will be sensitive and thoughtful development of the Henderson light rail station and the area around it. The Henderson station area, and in particular South Henderson St., are identified in the community's neighborhood plan as a focal point for housing and economic development, with safe and easy pedestrian, bicycle, bus, and light rail access. As a gateway to both Seattle and the Rainier Beach neighborhood, the station will visually welcome light rail passengers to the city and the community.
Henderson will be a surface station located in the MLK right-of-way, just south of South Henderson St. The station and MLK will be planned and developed to be an attractive place for area residents and light rail riders to walk, shop, bicycle, and gather. Connections to other transit services, as well as the Chief Sealth regional bicycle trail, will support pedestrian and bicycle activity at the station. The Sound Transit project includes improvements along Henderson St. to link the station to the Rainier Beach business district and Lake Washington. The neighborhood plan also calls for east-west transit service connecting the light rail station to Rainier Beach.
Community services and facilities at or near the station, such as locally-owned retail businesses, public open spaces, public art, and the existing community center, will serve nearby residents as well as light rail and bus riders. In addition, businesses and residents displaced from elsewhere along the MLK Jr. Way corridor during construction of the light rail may find the Henderson station area a good place to relocate, given its easy transit access to and from the region. These businesses could be a catalyst for economic development in the Rainier Beach neighborhood.
The development of the light rail station and area around it is a critical opportunity for the City and the community not only to increase access to and from Rainier Beach, but also to make public investments and attract private investments that reinforce the community's vision. This must be done in a way that retains and reinforces the social and aesthetic character of the neighborhood.
We can achieve our vision for Henderson with these tools.
A number of different tools and actions can be used to achieve the vision for the station area. Many of these tools will be used in the majority of station areas. Only the tools and the actions specific to this station area are listed below.
Land Use Code (Text and Zoning Changes)
Objective: Change land use regulations to encourage well-designed development that achieves the vision of the Neighborhood Plan, supports light rail and bus ridership, discourages auto use, and promotes pedestrian and bicycle activity. Land use regulations within the station area should also encourage affordable and mixed-income housing, and should provide economic opportunities for area residents.
Action: Establish a Station Area Overlay to prevent strip development with large surface parking lots, and encourage a walkable community, with mixed-use buildings with retail shops at street level, affordable housing, and parking located away from the street or underground. An overlay for Henderson will exclude single family zoned areas and will have specific boundaries designated around the station. The overlay could include height bonuses for housing, revised lot coverage requirements, and development standards (including increased sidewalk width for new development, and fulfilling open space requirements off site). Analyze proposed zoning changes to NC-40 near the station to ensure that they are appropriate and that the zoning will attract development that fulfills these objectives.
Objective: Implement station area parking strategies to promote light rail and bus ridership, enable development that will benefit from and support transit, and protect neighborhood parking.
Action: Consider parking requirements appropriate to the neighborhood that promote the use of light rail and buses. Manage on and off street parking supplies. Set policies that prioritize parking for residents and retail and discourage commuter parking, that allow shared parking among developments, that separate parking costs from building rent costs, and that implement transportation demand management.
Objective: Ensure that the station, surrounding development, and associated street and sidewalk improvements reinforce the architectural, social and visual character of the neighborhood and support the community's vision and goals. Incorporate architecture, public art, gateways and other design elements that communicate a clear sense of neighborhood identity. Include an easy to understand system of maps, markers and signs to help visitors and residents find their way around the station area and to key attractions and bus stops.
Action: Develop design criteria with Sound Transit staff and the community to influence projects developed on Sound Transit properties. Coordinate with other City light rail permitting processes and guidelines for light rail. Use the Henderson station and associated on-street bus transfer facilities to mark the gateway to Seattle and the Rainier Beach business district. Make transfers between the light rail station and nearby bus stops clear and convenient. Provide clear connections to the Rainier Beach business district.
Objective: Maximize development opportunities on Sound Transit, KC/Metro, and other publicly owned properties that support the community's vision for the station area and maximize the opportunity presented by a regional light rail station. Work closely with community groups and private developers to create opportunities for public-private partnerships that will benefit the community.
Action: Explore joint development opportunities near the station on Sound Transit and City owned properties to provide sites for displaced businesses and community services along MLK. Facilitate redevelopment near the Henderson station as relocation sites for businesses and community services displaced by light rail construction along MLK. Leverage other private and public investments in residential, commercial, and mixed-use developments around the station to support the Neighborhood Plan vision.
Objective: Public investments in the area around the light rail station should promote a vibrant, active community with a number of recreational and community gathering opportunities. Public facilities should reinforce neighborhood character, inspire positive social interactions between neighbors, support local efforts to promote economic opportunity, and celebrate the diversity and natural beauty of the Rainier Beach neighborhood.
Action: Work with the community to improve open spaces for gathering and recreation, integrate public art into the station, and provide public restrooms in the vicinity of the Henderson station, either as a public amenity or through arrangements with private businesses.
Street Reconfiguration/Operational Changes
Objective: Improve access to the light rail station for pedestrians, bikes, buses and shuttle vans for disabled riders. Ensure good circulation and traffic flow throughout the station area.
Action: Redesign MLK Jr. Way and Henderson St. with pedestrian amenities as part of the Sound Transit project, including wide sidewalks, lighting, and street trees.
Sidewalk and Crossing Improvements
Objective: Improve access to the light rail stations for pedestrians. Make walking within ¼ mile of the station a safe and enjoyable experience for all people.
Action: Improve the pedestrian environment along MLK Jr. Way and Henderson through such measures as widening sidewalks, installing decorative lighting, and making crossing improvements. Bring sidewalks and crossings up to Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards in the station area. Ensure good connections to on-street bus transfer facilities, Rainier Beach business district, area schools, and surrounding residential neighborhood.
Bicycle Facilities and Access
Objective: Provide bicycle facilities at the station and improve bicycle access throughout the station area to increase bus and light rail ridership and reduce auto dependency.
Action: Supply bike parking at the station and provide connections to the Chief Sealth regional bicycle trail. Consider striping bike lanes along Henderson and marking bike routes in the station area.
Bus Service Changes
Objective: Work with KC/Metro to increase access to the light rail system for buses and shuttle vans for disabled riders.
Action: Reallocate bus service that duplicates the light rail route to provide better local east-west access to the station (throughout the Rainier Valley and to Beacon Hill as that station is deferred). Maintain local bus service along MLK. Use the Henderson station to provide a transfer point for Renton bus passengers. Provide seamless connections and frequent bus service to the station to increase accessibility of the light rail system.
Open Space Improvements
Objective: Work with the community, Sound Transit, King County, and other agencies to provide additional open spaces for gathering and recreation in the station area. New open space should provide a vibrant, active, and safe environment for area residents and transit riders to gather and play.
Action: Develop a high quality plaza at the station and green space along Henderson St.. Provide clear pedestrian and other connections to Mapes Creek/52nd Ave., Rainier Beach High School, the Chief Sealth regional bicycle trail, and Lake Washington.
Objective: Increase opportunities for new housing and home ownership in the station area that take advantage of access to the regional light rail system, maintain the diversity and character of the neighborhood, and generate activity around the station to foster an enjoyable, affordable, and prosperous neighborhood where people are encouraged to walk, gather, and shop.
Action: Work with Sound Transit to identify housing opportunity sites. Increase housing for homebuyers as well as for renters in multifamily projects. Promote/facilitate mixed-use, mixed-income transit-oriented redevelopment of public and privately-owned sites in the station area. Develop housing programs and financing mechanisms that enable affordable housing to be included in housing development. This may include height bonuses for housing and human services, and reduced parking requirements where demand for parking is lower. Promote greater use of Property Tax Exemption and Location Efficient Mortgage programs where they support City housing goals.
Objective: Support human services in the station area that can benefit from easy access to buses and light rail, and that will serve Rainier Beach residents and others in nearby communities.
Action: Work closely with the community and human service providers impacted by light rail construction activity along other parts of the light rail line to proactively relocate their facilities to the Henderson station area to help avoid service interruptions.
Objective: Ensure consistency among all planning activities in the station area and ensure that station area planning implements the neighborhood vision.
Action: Explore opportunities to implement the Rainier Beach neighborhood plan. Work with King County to coordinate streetscape improvements with the Henderson Combined Sewer Overflow project.
Objective: Support existing businesses and services impacted by Sound Transit construction and encourage new businesses and services that benefit from and support the light rail system, create a diversity of family-wage jobs for local residents, and generate activity in the station area to fulfill the community's vision of an enjoyable, affordable, and prosperous neighborhood.
Action: Work with the community to develop and implement a plan that directs impacted businesses to appropriate resources, tools, and assistance during construction and helps ensure their successful relocation, operation during construction, and long-term viability. Use properties owned by Sound Transit near the Henderson station as relocation sites for businesses and community services displaced by light rail construction along MLK. Facilitate design and construction of small and locally owned businesses and community services in the Henderson station area. Use the Community Development Fund and other community and economic development resources to retain neighborhood businesses and services impacted by station construction. Leverage other private and public investments in residential, commercial, and mixed-use developments around the station to support the community's goals.
Objective: Create a safe, lively environment throughout the station area through good design, creation of economic opportunities, development of recreational opportunities for youth and adults, and a neighborhood that has a high level of pedestrian activity and community interaction.
Action: Provide good lighting and clear lines of sight in public spaces and new development to promote pedestrian activity and "eyes on the street." Coordinate with Seattle Police officers, the business community and other interested community organizations to develop and implement a public safety strategy that promotes and enhances public safety around the station.