Boom What’s Driving Development
posted by April 14 at 13:01 PMon
This is the thinking: With the Sound Transit light-rail link opening between downtown and the airport next year, MLK, Jr. Way South is transforming from an urban highway into a desirable neighborhood. One station on the route is at the intersection of MLK and South Othello Street, 15-20 minutes from downtown. People will want to live there.
Enter capitalism. Othello Partners has proposed two major developments, both enormous, on adjacent corners. One of them I outlined last week, and Othello’s Mike Hlastala sent me a rendering of it to share with Slog. The proposal is for a six-story building that would contain 375 units, 365 parking spaces and 25,000 square feet of retail.
Ruffcorn Mott Hinthorne Stine
The other proposal, Othello North, is also six stories and will contain 15,000 square feet of retail and 260 parking spaces.
This project indicates the future of the neighborhood, and the design process here sets precedent for what it will take to get the neighborhood right. “Specifically, ensuring a well proportioned scale is a critical factor to successfully integrate the project into the neighborhood fabric that is in flux,” wrote the review board after a previous meeting. So I tip my hat to Othello and the design board for spending a lot of time modifying the building’s mass and shape specifically to make it welcoming to pedestrians. It’s still not amazing, but it’s a nice enough building and a commendable use of space.
However, I’m also a bit disappointed. Considering that the impetus for this project is the site’s proximity to the Sound Transit station, with 600 parking spaces between the two new buildings – nearly one space per unit – it still promotes reliance on driving. For this intersection to succeed as a neighborhood, mass transit must be a necessity, not just an amenity. Residents must be required to get out and walk and talk and shop to make this a functional neighborhood, not just a highway with big buildings by the side of the road.