Envisioning Westlake/Convention Place

Link Light Rail in Seattle’s neighborhoods

Westlake station lies within 1/4 mile of the active and rapidly growing Denny Triangle and Downtown Commercial Core neighborhoods. In their neighborhood plans, both communities envision increases in high density housing and office development balanced with the amenities that make urban residential neighborhoods attractive. Parks, street trees, neighborhood-oriented businesses, and pedestrian-friendly green streets are amenities included in the communities’ visions. The street environment should be safe, inviting, and comfortable for pedestrians.

The area currently served by the Westlake and Convention Place bus tunnel stations will be served by light rail at Westlake Station with station entrances on Pine Street at 3rd and 6th avenues. Pine Street is a well–designed pedestrian route. Its clear signs, maps, markers, landscaping and wide sidewalks make it a good model for other streets in the station area. Pine Street also provides a key connection between the Westlake light rail and monorail stations and the Denny Triangle neighborhood. Denny Triangle is a fast–growing neighborhood with an increasing number of residences, office buildings, hotels, and the Washington State Convention and Trade Center.

In addition to providing good connections, making street improvements will benefit existing residents and increase Denny Triangle’s attractiveness as a place to live. Terry and 9th avenues are designated Green Streets. A Green Street is designed to encourage walking and to create a quieter pocket of residential streets within a dense urban neighborhood. Green Streets can have street trees, landscaping, lighting on the sidewalk, benches, bus stops, wide sidewalks, well marked crossings and other pedestrian amenities.

Human services, including childcare, benefit greatly from being located near light rail stations. With as much growth as the Denny Triangle and Commercial Core neighborhoods are experiencing, new childcare centers will benefit families with working parents and serve the growing market for childcare services.

King County’s new Convention Place Transit Oriented Development project will add vitality to the Denny Triangle neighborhood by creating new hotel rooms, offices, shops, residences, and open space. It will also "fill in the hole" created by the existing bus station and reconnect Denny Triangle to adjacent First Hill, Capitol Hill, and Downtown neighborhoods.

Light rail and the new development it will attract in the Westlake/Convention Place station area will support the communities’ goals for a lively urban neighborhood with high density housing, shops and offices, all connected to regional transit and near the heart of Downtown Seattle.

We can achieve our vision for Westlake/Convention Place 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.

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

Design Guidance

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 public art, and other design elements that emphasize Denny Triangle and Commercial Core’s urban 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 for transit-oriented development projects on public properties, including the Convention Place Station development. Coordinate with other City permitting processes and guidelines for light rail. Add maps, routes, and markers, like those found on Pine Street, between Westlake Station and destinations in the Denny Triangle neighborhood including Convention Place and the Convention Center. Work with Sound Transit’s art program and the Seattle and King County Arts Commissions to protect the artworks at Convention Place Station during Sound Transit construction and replace on site or in another location in the neighborhood.

Public Facilities

Objective: Promote a vibrant, active community with a number of public investments near the light rail station including recreational and community gathering places. Public buildings should reinforce neighborhood character. Community gathering spaces, plazas, bus stops and the light rail station should inspire positive social interactions between neighbors.

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 Westlake station, either as a public amenity or through arrangements with private businesses.

Street/Alley Vacations

Objective: Balance the public benefits of street/alley vacations that support new development which meets neighborhood goals for the station area, with the need for local circulation and access.

Action: Consider surface or subterranean street/alley vacations to accommodate new development if the project meets neighborhood goals for the station area. Work with King County to vacate Terry Ave. across the Convention Place Station site in exchange for a public benefit on that site as described in the Downtown Seattle Tunnel Transfer Agreement.

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: Make improvements to downtown’s streets, sidewalks and bus facilities as part of the Downtown Surface Streets Improvement project. Improve streets and crossings from the Westlake Station to the Denny Triangle neighborhood, the Federal Courthouse, the Convention Center, and First Hill and Pike/Pine neighborhoods. Make any operational changes necessary to support the City and community vision for the 9th Ave. and Terry Ave. Green Streets. Reconfigure the 9th Ave. and Olive Way intersection to accommodate bus service during Sound Transit construction.

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: Implement the Green Street design concept for 9th and Terry Avenues. Bring curb ramps up to the standard set by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Repair heaved sidewalks between major destinations and station entrances where necessary. Increase sidewalk width within 300’ of station entrances or make other improvements to pedestrian environment if sidewalk widening is not possible due to right of way constraints. Add sidewalk lighting and well–marked crosswalks where necessary. Improve the pedestrian crossing at 9th Ave. and Olive Way with a landscaped center island.

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 station entrances to accommodate passenger demand and increase transit ridership. Add a bike station at the 3rd and Pine building. Establish standards for additional bike parking in new station area developments. Sign and/or stripe bike routes as appropriate to increase access to the station.

Car Sharing

Objective: Provide a viable alternative to car ownership and encourage people who live near a light rail station not to own a car, or in the case of a family to own one car.

Action: Expand the car sharing program to all downtown station areas. Identify parking spaces in the station area for the program’s use, particularly on-street spaces in close proximity to the station. Include car sharing spaces in new developments, including King County’s Convention Place Station project.

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: Provide frequent bus service to the light rail station. Make transfers between bus and light rail convenient to encourage transit ridership. Remove on–street bus layover spaces in all of north downtown once the Convention Place Station bus layover facility is complete. As part of the Green Street design, add a bus stop on Terry Ave near the current Convention Place Station to replace the existing passenger service.

Open Space Improvements

Objective: Add open space and community gathering spaces in the station area to support new housing development in the area around the station.

Action: Develop a high quality open space/urban plaza as part of the Convention Place Station development. Acquire and develop additional open space sites within the Denny Triangle neighborhood.

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, and generate activity around the station so that people are encouraged to walk, gather, and shop.

Action: Develop housing for homebuyers as well as renters. Develop housing programs and financing mechanisms that enable affordable housing to be included in new housing developments. This may include use of the City’s downtown development bonus programs that encourage affordable housing, human services, and open space in exchange for increased building heights. Redevelop public and privately–owned sites in the station area. Promote greater use of Property Tax Exemption and Location Efficient Mortgage programs where they support City housing goals. Encourage participation in the Transfer of Development Credit program to fund Green Street improvements in the Denny Triangle neighborhood.

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 and nearby employees.

Action: Explore options for new childcare facilities as part of station area developments.

Joint Development

Objective: Maximize development opportunities on Sound Transit, KC/Metro, and other publicly owned properties. Work closely with community groups and private developers to create opportunities for public-private partnerships that will benefit the community.

Action: Facilitate the Convention Place Transit Oriented Development, a key joint development project in this station area.

Public Safety

Objective: Create a safe, lively environment throughout the station area.

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.

Plan Coordination

Objective: Coordinate all downtown planning activities to ensure that station area planning implements the community’s vision.

Action: Coordinate with ongoing planning activities including the Downtown Urban Design Plan, the Denny Triangle Green Streets project, the Downtown Wayfinding program, and the Downtown Surface Street Improvements Project.