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January 13, 2015

SeaTac wants to use TODs to create a sense of community

  • The idea is to encourage new development around three light rail stations — including one that's not even in SeaTac.
    Journal Staff Reporter

    Image courtesy of Brooks+Scarpa Architecture [enlarge]
    Angle Lake station is set to open in 2016. The garage is on the left and an earlier design for the station is on the right. Several developers have plans for projects nearby.

    SeaTac is a suburban city of about 28,000 people with Seattle-Tacoma International Airport at its center.

    But there is an effort to give it more of an urban feel and a greater sense of community by encouraging new development around three light rail stations, including one that's not even in SeaTac.

    SeaTac is building sidewalks, plazas and a fire station, and is improving roads — some of that with help from Sound Transit — to make those areas attractive for development.

    City Manager Todd Cutts said the goal is to create a better place to live, work and play.

    “In SeaTac we have a great economic engine in the airport,” he said. “What we are lacking is that core sense of place that you can build a true city around. We are looking to create a sense of community in SeaTac that is focused around these light rail stations.”

    The 10-square-mile city is midway between Seattle and Tacoma. The main industries are hospitality, warehousing and aerospace.

    As part of the redevelopment effort, SeaTac is creating a road to link the Angle Lake light rail station with Des Moines Creek Business Park, and provide airport access from the south. The Port of Seattle operates the airport and owns the land where the business park will be built. The park is mainly in Des Moines, but part is in SeaTac.

    The road is an extension of 26th Avenue South that will run parallel to busy International Boulevard. It will open up for development commercial and industrial land owned by the port and private parties.

    “Right now they're landlocked and have no (road) access,” said Joe Scorcio, SeaTac's community and economic development director.

    The city wants light manufacturing and other labor intensive businesses in that area.

    The Angle Lake station in SeaTac is set to open in late 2016 at South 200th Street and 28th Avenue South.

    A number of developers have announced plans for building near it, and Jeff Robinson, SeaTac's economic development director, said two other developers are interested in building apartment projects — one geared toward students, the other for families. He declined to name the developers.

    Robinson said the station will allow people to live in an area with more affordable rents but have a direct link to downtown Seattle and the University of Washington. King County Metro RapidRide buses also link the station with south King County, he said.

    The station area is now home to hotels, mini storage, retail, housing and park-and-fly lots, but SeaTac is working to make it more pedestrian friendly. The city would like to see mid- to high-rise structures with housing, office and retail nearby.

    Robinson said the station should attract jobs and a substantial amount of new housing.

    Wright Runstad & Co. is interested is building more than 1 million square feet near the station on a site at South 200th Street and 28th Avenue South. The Seattle developer has an option to buy the land, and has said office space, a hotel and/or retail are possible.

    Here are some other projects that are in the works:

    • This year AVS Communities plans to start building Reserve at SeaTac, a 289-unit apartment complex for seniors at 19707 International Blvd.

    • TMI Hospitality plans an extended-stay Residence Inn by Marriott at 19608 International Blvd. on property it wants to buy from the city

    • Ariel Development of Seattle plans a five-story, 150-room Hyatt Place hotel at 19518 International Blvd.

    Sound Transit intends to sell a 35,000-square-foot property at the station complex and the port has 20 acres nearby at South 200th Street and 26th Avenue South available for redevelopment.

    City officials said the port's property is in contention to be the new Federal Aviation Administration regional headquarters, as is Wright Runstad's property.

    SeaTac also wants to see high density housing with retail and possibly some office space on city property kitty-corner from the Tukwila International Boulevard light rail station, Robinson said. SeaTac plans to put out a request for proposals late this year to redevelop the 5.1 acres at South 154th Street and International Boulevard.

    (Editor's note: This story has been changed to reflect the fact that the property near the light rail station is in SeaTac.)

    SeaTac bought most of the property — now a strip mall called SeaTac Center — in late 2009 with an eye toward redevelopment, and is acquiring the remaining half acre, Robinson said.

    The city does not limit building heights on the site, which is not in the airport's flight path. However, the Federal Aviation Administration must be consulted about any proposed development, he said.

    The city also sees potential for more commercial development in an area along International Boulevard between South 176th Street and South 170th Street that is across from the airport light rail station. There are now a number of hotels, including Crowne Plaza, Hilton and Marriott, in that area, which is zoned for mid- and high-rise construction. A pedestrian bridge links the station to this area.

    Scorcio said the city council established goals a few years back to try to encourage TODs around all three light rail stations, to provide a sense of place and make them an asset to the community.

    “Light rail is an important part of where this community is going in the future,” he said.


    Lynn Porter can be reached by email or by phone at (206) 622-8272.

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