Envisioning Capitol Hill

Link Light Rail in Seattle’s neighborhoods

Capitol Hill is a dynamic urban neighborhood, with a thriving commercial district along Broadway and the highest-density residential neighborhood in Washington State. The community's desire, as articulated in the Capitol Hill Neighborhood Plan, is to maintain and enhance the best features of this vibrant and bustling neighborhood. This includes expanding the mix of businesses, adding new housing, and improving the environment for pedestrians. Several major public investments around the light rail station will support business and housing development, helping to maintain Capitol Hill's economic and cultural vitality. The covering of Lincoln Reservoir will provide nearly eight additional acres of open space where residents and visitors can gather, play, and relax. Seattle Central Community College's expanded facilities will include a new library and a technology center for students and the community. Seattle Public Library's redevelopment will provide a new, larger library for the neighborhood. The light rail station will bring new customers and visitors to the business district and provide increased access to jobs for local residents,

Streetscape improvements, including art and lighting on Broadway, will celebrate the area's unique character. Improvements on E John St. and the Green Street improvements on E Howell St. will connect the Broadway business district, the Community College, and Lincoln Reservoir/Park with the surrounding neighborhood. New neighborhood-specific design guidelines for Capitol Hill will ensure that new development complements the celebrated character of the Broadway area.

The underground light rail station at Capitol Hill will have entrances on the west side of Broadway near E Howell St. and Seattle Central Community College (SCCC), and at the southwest corner of E John St. and Broadway. Light rail riders will access the platform by escalators or elevators. Entrances to the light rail stations will be integrated into new development. This development and eventual redevelopment at Sound Transit's construction staging areas will be coordinated with and driven by the community's vision for an expanded mix of new retail spaces, offices, and housing. Specifically, the John St. entrance and new development around it will reflect the tight knit retail and commercial environment around that intersection. The entrance at the SCCC north lot will be incorporated into SCCC's Urban Technology Center.

We can achieve our vision for Capitol Hill 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 a diverse range of housing and new businesses.

Action: Establish a Station Area Overlay to prevent strip development with large surface parking lots, and encourage a walkable community, with buildings that have retail shops at street level, affordable housing, and parking located away from the street or underground. Work with the neighborhood to evaluate appropriate zoning for Lower Broadway that meets neighborhood plan and City goals for development. Finalize and adopt Capitol Hill neighborhood specific design guidelines.

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 requirements appropriate to the neighborhood that promote light rail and bus use and manage on and off street parking supplies. Establish 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. Work with the Capitol Hill Transit Coalition to secure replacement parking and to implement parking management strategies and transportation demand management programs.

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 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. Develop station design criteria to provide a framework for station design and the City's light rail permitting. Work with the community to finalize Capitol Hill's neighborhood specific design guidelines. Coordinate with and build on existing public art and streetscape design elements when reconstructing Broadway. Facilitate Sound Transit's work with the community to integrate public art into the stations.

Public Facilities

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 spaces. Public facilities should reinforce neighborhood character, inspire positive social interactions between neighbors, support local efforts to promote economic opportunity, and celebrate the unique nature of the Capitol Hill neighborhood.

Action: Coordinate with Sound Transit and SCCC to ensure station design that is integrated with the anticipated SCCC Urban Technology Center. Implement the Groundswell Off Broadway Master Plan for the Lincoln Reservoir lid to create a new park for residents. Develop a strong connection between residential areas to the west and the park along E. Howell St. Work with the community to integrate public art into the station and provide public restrooms, either as a public amenity or through arrangements with private businesses.

Sidewalk and Crossing Improvements

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

Action: 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 the sidewalk when widening is not possible. Develop a design plan for Broadway and E Howell Street to ensure these streets are reconstructed to meet community needs. Ensure good pedestrian connections to SCCC, Lincoln Reservoir Park, and the surrounding residential neighborhood.

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, 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.

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. Mark bike routes and improve the condition of existing facilities to increase access to the station.

Car Sharing

Objective: Support bus and light rail ridership and development near the station by providing alternatives to car ownership.

Action: Support the existing car sharing program and encourage greater participation. Identify additional parking locations for car sharing vehicles near the station as demand increases.

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 and Sound Transit to provide seamless connections and frequent bus service to the station to increase ease of use and accessibility of the light rail system.

Open Space Improvements

Objective: In partnership with the community, Sound Transit, King County, and other agencies, provide additional open spaces for gathering and recreation in the station area. Open spaces should provide vibrant, active, and safe places for area residents and transit riders to gather and play.

Action: Implement the Groundswell Off Broadway Master Plan for the Lincoln Reservoir lid to add significant open space to the neighborhood. Develop a strong connection along E. Howell St. to connect the park with areas to the west of Broadway, SCCC, and the light rail station.

Human Services

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

Action: Explore options for new childcare facilities and other appropriate services as needed by the community as part of station area developments. Work with Sound Transit and property owners to provide space affordable to organizations providing human services to the local community.

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 character of the neighborhood, and foster an enjoyable, affordable, and safe neighborhood around the station.

Action: Support CHHIP and other nonprofit efforts to provide affordable housing. Consider creation of housing Transfer of Development Rights/Bonus program and the Property Tax Exemption Program for Multifamily Housing to facilitate affordable housing development. Work with Sound Transit to identify housing opportunity sites. Increase housing for homebuyers as well as renters in multifamily projects. Promote/facilitate mixed-use, mixed-income transit-oriented redevelopment of public and privately-owned sites in the station area. Develop a housing program and financing mechanisms that enable affordable housing to be included in housing development. This may include changes to the Land Use Code that encourage housing and human services. Promote greater use of Property Tax Exemption and Location Efficient Mortgage programs where they support City housing goals. Work with SCCC to explore opportunities for student housing.

Economic Development

Objective: Support existing businesses and services impacted by construction and encourage new businesses and services that create jobs and generate activity in the station area.

Action: Work with the community to develop and implement a plan that directs impacted businesses in the Broadway business district to appropriate resources, tools, and assistance during construction and helps ensure their successful relocation, operation during construction, and long-term viability. Encourage new businesses that support transit and create jobs. Continue working with the Capitol Hill Transit Coalition to develop and implement its partnership agreement with Sound Transit.

Joint Development

Objective: Maximize transit-oriented development opportunities on Sound Transit, KC/Metro, and other publicly-owned properties that are in keeping with the vision for the station area.

Action: Maximize development opportunities at both station entrances. Coordinate with Sound Transit and SCCC to ensure station design that is integrated with the anticipated SCCC technology learning center.

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 Capitol Hill neighborhood plan. Coordinate with ongoing construction and planning activities including the Lincoln Reservoir Lid, the new Capitol Hill Library, the Seattle Central Community College (SCCC) Master Plan and other major projects.