Lynnwood’s city center may be about to undergo a metamorphosis, with light rail arriving in 2024 and with more than 1,500 new apartments opening soon or planned, plus new stores and offices. Sound Transit’s $3.1 billion Lynnwood extension reached 50% completion last week and will carry riders to downtown Seattle in 27 minutes.
But the vision for an important piece in the puzzle is still taking shape. Sound Transit this week launched an online survey asking for public input on the development of more than 2 acres of prime property next to the Lynnwood light-rail station.
The Sound Transit-owned site, at 200th Street Southwest and 46th Avenue West, previously included a strip mall with stores and restaurants. The site is the size of two football fields and is being used for bus-station parking and for light-rail construction staging.
Sound Transit hopes to select a developer by the time the light-rail station opens (with a new 1,670-stall parking garage), and the project is almost certain to include some affordable housing.
The site is zoned for up to 14 stories, though Lynnwood city planner Karl Almgren said most similar projects in the region are topping out at seven stories. The land could potentially accommodate several hundred apartments.
“We do have our eye on housing there,” said Rebecca Brunn, a Sound Transit associate project manager.
The median monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Lynnwood was $1,686 for November, according to Apartment List, up from $1,351 in November 2017. The median house price in the area in October was $805,000.
The Sound Transit survey will be available in English, Spanish, Vietnamese and Korean through Dec. 21 at LynnwoodTOD.com (TOD is an acronym for “transit-oriented development”). Sound Transit has mailed postcards to Lynnwood residents to let them know about the survey and is working with community and religious groups to gather more ideas, Brunn said.
There will be another survey next spring, with the input helping Sound Transit write a request for development proposals. The agency hopes to see the project completed by 2027, Brunn said.
The current survey is for everyone but is particularly directed at people who live, work and pass through Lynnwood’s city center.
There’s a question about what amenities are needed in the neighborhood, with options including small stores, large stores, child care, arts and recreation. There’s also a question about what public spaces are needed, with options including gardens, play areas, plazas and wide sidewalks.
The survey asks whether Sound Transit should prioritize: housing or commerce; a greater number of small apartments or a lesser number of large apartments; housing for people with the lowest incomes or housing for people with a range of incomes.
State law says Sound Transit must offer 80% of its suitable surplus property for the development of housing that people at or below 80% of the area’s median income can afford (80% for a Snohomish County family of three is currently $81,450 per year).
Sound Transit already has helped establish affordable housing at light-rail stations in King County, including the Capitol Hill station in Seattle, and there are more opportunities coming up, Brunn said, mentioning the Kent-Des Moines station set to open in 2024. But the Lynnwood project will be the agency’s first attempt in Snohomish County and a crucial aspect of the walkable core that the city is trying to put together, she noted.
Lynnwood started planning for transit-oriented development years ago with zoning changes and infrastructure improvements. There are more than 200 new apartments opening this month just east of the light-rail station and more than 1,300 apartments planned as part of a massive project just north of the station, Almgren pointed out. The city hopes to make the neighborhood a pedestrian-friendly downtown for living, working and socializing, he said.
Seattle Times business reporter Heidi Groover contributed to this article.