Envisioning Edmunds/Columbia City

Link Light Rail in Seattle’s neighborhoods

In its neighborhood plan, the Columbia City/ Hillman City/Genesee community envisions "interesting, attractive, and vibrant commercial areas linked through transit to other neighborhoods and employment centers within Seattle and the greater area, a community in which reinvestment and entrepreneurship are ongoing and apparent." The Edmunds station will be a gateway to the Rainier Vista redevelopment and Columbia City, which remains the key shopping destination and cultural center for the community. The station will have small-scale, neighborhood-supporting retail and services nearby, and will help fulfill the neighborhood’s desire for ongoing reinvestment and entrepreneurship.

Located along MLK Jr. Way, between South Edmunds and Alaska streets, the station will be approximately a five-minute walk from both Columbia City and Rainier Vista. Clear pedestrian routes will connect the two areas and will acknowledge the historic business district's relationship to the station. Sound Transit will make improvements along Edmunds St. as a part of the light rail station project. These improvements will reflect the Columbia City historic district and include widened sidewalks, street trees, and lighting. Strong pedestrian and bicycle connections throughout the station area will link the light rail with the area's parks, schools, and community facilities. In addition, good bus connections will help serve Beacon Hill riders prior to the Beacon Hill station construction.

The redevelopment of Seattle Housing Authority's Rainier Vista garden community into a mixed-income community of homeowners and renters will provide more places to live for different types of families and people. It will promote stabilization of a community that retains a range of ethnically and economically diverse households. Rainier Vista will also bring more people and activity to the station area, and will support bus and light rail use, along with the continued revitalization of Columbia City.

The Edmunds station shares some common goals with the other Southeast stations. Light rail will provide further opportunities for housing, businesses, and employment. Implementation of the key community improvements recommended by the neighborhood plan will ensure that light rail provides benefits beyond that of improved access to and from the Puget Sound Region and Southeast Seattle.

We can achieve our vision for Edmunds/Columbia City 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 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, mixed-use buildings with retail shops at street level, affordable housing, and parking located away from the street or underground. An overlay for Edmunds/Columbia City will exclude single family zoned areas and will have specific boundaries designated around the station. The overlay could include additional height for housing, revised lot coverage requirements, and development standards (including increased sidewalk width for new development, and fulfilling open space requirements off site). As noted in the neighborhood plan, an overlay could also allow for single-purpose residential development outright along MLK Jr. Way. Analyze proposed zoning changes to NC1-40 and L-4 to ensure that they are appropriate and support Rainier Vista redevelopment and continued revitalization of Columbia City. Develop design guidelines and development standards to ensure any property development in the overlay district that is next to single family zones blends into the existing neighborhood.

Sidewalk and Crossing Improvements

Objective: Improve access to the light rail stations for pedestrians. Make walking within 1/4 mile of the station a safe and enjoyable experience for all people.

Action: Improve the pedestrian environment along MLK Jr. Way and Edmunds St. 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. Ensure good connections to the Columbia City historic district, nearby schools, Rainier Vista, and the surrounding residential neighborhood.

Design Guidance

Objective: Ensure that the station, surrounding development, and associated street and sidewalk improvements reinforce the architectural, social, and aesthetic character of the neighborhood and support the community's vision and goals. Incorporate 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, City, and County-owned properties. Coordinate with other City light rail permitting processes and guidelines for light rail. Use the Edmunds station and streetscape design to establish a gateway for Rainier Vista and the Columbia City business district. Provide clear visual and pedestrian connections to the Columbia City business district.

Public Facilities

Objective: Promote a vibrant, active community with a number of public investments in the area around the light rail station, including recreational and community gathering opportunities. Design public facilities to reinforce neighborhood character, inspire positive social interactions between neighbors, support continued revitalization and investment in the community, and celebrate the diversity and natural beauty of the 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 Edmunds station, either as a public amenity or through arrangements with private businesses. Support neighborhood efforts to serve as South Seattle’s premier community-based center for cultural and commercial activity. Support efforts to permanently locate the Columbia City Farmers’ Market in conjunction with other development in the station area. Partner with SHA and the Seattle School District to site anticipated facilities as part of the Rainier Vista redevelopment.

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: Re-establish the street grid and include a multiple-roadway boulevard on MLK Jr. Way as part of the Rainier Vista redevelopment. Redesign MLK Jr. Way and South Edmunds St. as part of the Sound Transit project with pedestrian amenities, including wide sidewalks, lighting, and street trees.

Parking Strategies

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 to promote the use of light rail and buses and manage on and off street parking supplies. Establish policies that prioritize parking for residents and retail, discourage commuter parking, allow shared parking among developments, separate parking costs from building rent costs, and implement transportation demand management.

Street/Alley Vacations

Objective: Balance the public benefits of street/alley vacations with the need for circulation and access.

Action: Consider partial street closure(s) to facilitate redevelopment on side streets along MLK Jr. Way that fulfills the community’s vision.

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. Consider striping bike lanes and marking bike routes in the station area. Improve bicycle connections on South Alaska or Edmunds streets to the Columbia City historic district. Coordinate improved north-south bicycle access as part of the Sound Transit project, as called for in the neighborhood plan.

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: Work with KC Metro to 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 and accessibility of the light rail system.

Open Space Improvements

Objective: Provide additional open spaces for gathering and recreation in the station area that are vibrant, active, and safe places for area residents and transit riders to gather, relax, and play.

Action: Work with the community, Sound Transit, King County, and other agencies to develop a high quality plaza at the station. Provide connections to the Orca School playground, Columbia Park, and Rainier Playfield. Include usable open space in the Rainier Vista redevelopment. Renovate hillclimbs to Beacon Hill.

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. Support community goals for a stable, healthy residential neighborhood where people choose to stay and raise families, and where housing is affordable.

Action: Work with SHA to facilitate Rainier Vista redevelopment to create more housing, particularly along MLK Jr. Way. Work with Sound Transit to identify housing opportunity sites. 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 to enable affordable housing to be included in housing development. Increase housing for renters as well as homebuyers in multifamily projects. Promote greater use of Property Tax Exemption and Location Efficient Mortgage programs.

Human Services

Objective: Support human services in the station area that can benefit from easy access to buses and light rail, and will serve residents in the station area.

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 Edmunds/Columbia City station area to help them avoid service interruptions. Retain existing childcare centers in the station area. Explore options for new childcare facilities and other human services as part of the Rainier Vista redevelopment.

Economic Development

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. Help create a diversity of family-wage jobs for local residents, and generate activity in the station area to foster a community where reinvestment and entrepreneurship are ongoing and apparent.

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. Establish incubator spaces at Rainier Vista as receiving sites for fragile businesses displaced by Sound Transit and for other small start-up businesses. Facilitate design and construction of small and locally owned businesses in the Edmunds/Columbia City station area. Support efforts to permanently locate the Columbia City Farmers’ Market in the 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.

Joint Development

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. Identify 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 business and community services along MLK Jr. Way. Leverage other private and public investments in residential, commercial, and mixed-use developments around the station to support the neighborhood plan vision. Support/ facilitate joint development opportunities on SHA property in conjunction with the Rainier Vista redevelopment.

Public Safety

Objective: Create a safe, lively environment throughout the station area through the use of good design, creation of economic opportunities, development of recreational opportunities for youth and adults, and encouragement 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, 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 planning activities in the station area are consistent and that station area planning implements the neighborhood vision.

Action: Explore opportunities to implement the Columbia City neighborhood plan. Implement station area actions in concert with SHA's Rainier Vista redevelopment project.