Envisioning Othello

Link Light Rail in Seattle’s neighborhoods

In its neighborhood plan, the MLK@Holly neighborhood pledges to "build and maintain a healthy, safe, and sustainable community." Specifically, the community wishes to encourage open space, affordable housing, commercial development, educational and social resources, and a safe environment, while preserving the surrounding single family neighborhoods. The light rail station, located north of South Othello St. along MLK Jr Way, will provide a focus for the commercial district and help to create a center to the community. The station will also be the front door to Seattle Housing Authority's NewHolly redevelopment project, which will provide new opportunities for homeowners and renters in an attractive, walkable neighborhood with a thriving neighborhood commercial district that supports bus and light rail use. The increased commercial activity expected to result from the new light rail station will complement existing local businesses and services in the area around the station.

The Othello station will be located at street level within the MLK Jr Way right-of-way in the heart of the neighborhood's commercial district. The station and MLK Jr Way will be enjoyable places to walk, shop, bicycle, and gather for local residents and bus and light rail riders. Walkable neighborhood streets, with improved sidewalks, street trees, and clear pedestrian and bicycle connections, will improve access to the area's parks, businesses, community facilities, services, and the Chief Sealth regional bicycle trail.

Light rail and enhanced bus service will help achieve the neighborhood's vision for an accessible transit system that will adequately serve a diverse, growing community. Light rail is a key investment that will help to focus public and private investment in the economic development of the community and provide a diversity of residential, commercial, and employment opportunities.

We can achieve our vision for Othello 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, while preserving the surrounding single family neighborhoods. Land use regulations within the station area should also encourage affordable and mixed-income housing and economic opportunities for area residents.

Action: Establish a Station Area Overlay to prevent development for automobiles with large surface parking lots, and instead encourage a walkable community, with buildings that have retail shops at street level, affordable and mixed income housing above, and parking located away from the street or underground. An overlay for Othello will exclude single family zoned areas and will have specific boundaries designated around the station. The overlay could include height bonuses for housing, modified requirements that encourage housing, and development standards (including increased sidewalk width for new development, and fulfilling open space requirements off site). Analyze proposed zoning changes to NC3-65 near the station to ensure that they are appropriate and that the zoning will attract development that fulfills these objectives.

Parking Strategies

Objective: Implement parking strategies in the neighborhood around the station to promote bus and light rail ridership, enable development that benefits from and supports light rail, and protect neighborhood parking.

Action: Consider parking requirements appropriate to the neighborhood that promote light rail and bus use. Manage the amount of on and off street parking. Working with the community and local businesses, create policies that: prioritize parking for residents and retail, discourage commuter parking, encourage shared parking among developments, separate parking costs from building rent costs, and implement transportation demand management.

Design Guidance

Objective: Ensure that the light rail station, surrounding development, and associated street and sidewalk improvements reinforce the architectural, cultural, and visual character of the neighborhood and support the community's vision and goals. Ensure that public art, gateways, and other design elements are incorporated into the station and that development around the station communicates a clear sense of neighborhood identity. An easy to understand system of maps, markers, and signs should help visitors find their way around the station and to key community attractions and bus stops.

Action: Develop design criteria with Sound Transit staff and the community to influence projects developed on properties owned by Sound Transit. Coordinate with other City permitting processes and/or guidelines for light rail. Use the Othello station to better integrate the NewHolly community with the MLK@Holly neighborhood and businesses district. Create clear pedestrian and bicycle connections to nearby bus stops and the NewHolly Campus of Learners. Preserve business district information kiosks during construction and relocate them along MLK Jr Way when complete.

Street/Alley Vacations

Objective: Consider street and alley vacations in the area around the light rail station to support development that fulfills the community's vision for the neighborhood, supports light rail ridership, and maintains good circulation and access.

Action: Consider partial street closures to facilitate redevelopment on side streets along MLK Jr Way that promotes economic revitalization and a compact, walkable commercial district.

Bicycle Facilities and Access

Objective: Provide bicycle facilities at the light rail station and improve bicycle access throughout the station area to increase bus and light rail ridership and reduce dependence on automobiles.

Action: Supply bike parking at the station and provide clear bicycle access to the Chief Sealth regional bicycle trail. Consider striping bike lanes and marking bike routes in the station area.

Street Reconfiguration/Operational Changes

Objective: Stimulate the development of the neighborhood's town center and 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: Re-establish the street grid and explore a frontage boulevard on MLK Jr Way as part of the NewHolly redevelopment. Redesign MLK Jr Way to include pedestrian amenities as part of the Sound Transit project, including wide sidewalks, lighting, and street trees. Together, these actions will help to create a more pedestrian and bicycle friendly environment around the light rail station and in the town center, to encourage walking, shopping, and social interaction.

Sidewalk and Crossing Improvements

Objective: Improve access to the light rail stations for pedestrians. Make walking within ¼ mile of the station a safer and more enjoyable experience for all people.

Action: Improve the pedestrian environment along MLK Jr Way, Othello, and Myrtle by widening sidewalks, installing decorative lighting, and making crossing improvements. Provide clear pedestrian access from the light rail station to NewHolly and the Campus of Learners, neighborhood parks, and surrounding residential neighborhoods.

Public Facilities

Objective: Promote a vibrant, and active community, with recreational and community gathering places. Public facilities should reinforce the neighborhood's unique character and diversity, inspire neighbors to interact, and support local efforts to promote economic revitalization.

Action: Provide improved access from the station to the NewHolly Campus of Learners to promote use of this important community resource. 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 Othello station, either as a public amenity or through arrangements with private businesses.

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 and between the Rainier Valley and Beacon Hill. Maintain local bus service along MLK Jr Way. Provide seamless connections and frequent bus service to the station to increase the convenience of and access to the light rail system.

Open Space Improvements

Objective: Ensure that safe and active open spaces for recreation and community gathering are provided in the area around the light rail station. Support the neighborhood's vision for integrating open space with residential and commercial development.

Action: Develop a high-quality plaza near the light rail station as part of its construction. Provide clear pedestrian and bicycle connections to 37th Ave. Park, VanAsselt Playfield, the Othello Playground, and open space in Phase 3 of NewHolly.

Public Safety

Objective: Create a safe, lively environment throughout the station area through design that encourages a high level of pedestrian activity and community interaction, economic revitalization, and development of recreational opportunities for youth and adults.

Action: Provide good lighting and clear lines of sight in public spaces and around new development. Encourage development with retail shops at street level and housing above that will generate increased pedestrian activity, social interaction, and "eyes on the street." Coordinate with Seattle Police officers, SHA, 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.

Plan Coordination

Objective: Ensure that all planning activities in the station area are consistent and that station area planning implements the neighborhood vision.

Action: Explore opportunities to implement the MLK@Holly Neighborhood Plan. Implement station area actions in concert with SHA's NewHolly redevelopment projects. Work closely with Sound Transit to maximize the benefit of light rail station development for the community and city.

Housing Actions

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. New housing should be designed to foster a healthy, safe, and sustainable neighborhood around the station where people are encouraged to walk, gather, and shop.

Action: Work with SHA to facilitate NewHolly Phase 3 redevelopment to build more housing, particularly near Othello and MLK Jr Way. Work with Sound Transit to identify sites where new affordable and mixed-income housing could be located. Promote and facilitate development, with retail at street level and mixed-income housing above, on public and private property near the light rail station and in the town center area. Develop housing programs and financing mechanisms to ensure that affordable housing is included in market rate housing developments. Increase housing for renters and homebuyers in multifamily projects. Promote greater use of Property Tax Exemption and Location Efficient Mortgage programs. Provide expedited permitting for development that fulfills community and light rail ridership objectives.

Human Services

Objective: Support human services in the neighborhood around the station that will benefit from easy access to buses and light rail, and will serve the surrounding community

Action: Retain existing childcare centers in the station area. Support active community use of the NewHolly Campus of Learners. Support the retention of the Holly Park Medical Clinic as part of the East Block redevelopment near the station.

Joint Development

Objective: Maximize development opportunities on Sound Transit, KC/Metro, SHA, and other publicly owned properties that support the neighborhood's vision and take best advantage of the regional light rail system. Create opportunities for public-private partnerships that will benefit the community and increase light rail ridership.

Action: Explore joint development opportunities near the station on Sound Transit owned properties. Work with SHA, local businesses, community groups, and private developers to create opportunities for public-private partnerships that fulfill the neighborhood plan vision for mixed use development and affordable private ownership. Investigate opportunities for land assembly and development by local business owners, private developers, and public agencies.

Economic Development

Objective: Support existing businesses and services impacted by light rail construction and encourage new businesses and services that benefit from and support the light rail system, to create a diversity of family-wage jobs for local residents, and fulfill the community's desire for opportunities for ownership of affordable commercial property.

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. Help local entrepreneurs start new businesses by co-locating them at NewHolly, where they can share resources and expenses, and benefit from technical assistance and live-work opportunities. Work with SHA and other agencies to create more opportunities for small business ownership. Use the Community Development Fund and other community and economic development resources to retain neighborhood businesses and services impacted by station construction and maximize the benefit to the community from the public and private investments that are anticipated in housing and commercial development.