North Seattle Neighborhoods changing with Link Light Rail
Can a train station change an entire neighborhood?
In few years, you’ll be able to take the Link Light Rail to North Seattle. That might not seem like a big deal but it will be the first time you’ll be able to take the train directly to a shopping and entertainment center in the city — not counting downtown.
Light rail stops are still under construction for an extension from the University District to Northgate. The tunnels for the rail lines are mostly complete. Crews recently removed a cutter head from a boring machine near Husky Stadium after it completed its job.
Steve Heim, the general manager for Northgate Mall, says he is ready for those lines to open.
“What we’re hoping for is a person that lives, eats and plays in this area,” Heim said. “They are trying to get the area more dense, so people can use mass transit how it was meant to be used. Our hope is that they eat and shop here, then go off to the Seahawks game.”
North Seattle neighborhoods anticipating light rail
It’s not just Northgate. You can walk around neighborhoods down to Roosevelt and see the mixed-use construction projects popping up block after block — in advance of the new stations.
Kenny Darling, the general manager of Pie & Pints in the Roosevelt neighborhood, says you can see a construction site for a new light rail stop from the windows of the bar. The station will eventually be located on the corner of 12th Avenue and 65th Street. The construction has lingered for years and local businesses are noticing.
Darling admits his business is doing OK, but many of his neighbors are not so lucky.
“A lot of business have seen trouble,” Darling said. “We have a vacuum store next door; their whole business relies on someone dropping off their vacuum out front. If you can’t do that, you are in trouble.”
Jesse Le, a real estate agent who just sold the remodeled house across the street from the soon-to-be Northgate light rail station, says that remodeled three-bedroom rambler wasn’t cheap — it went for more than $750,000.
“I didn’t even think about it being near the Light Rail until you said that,” Le said. “I don’t think the buyers we have in contract even thought about it.”
Dr. Warren Brown, president of North Seattle College located across the bridge from the soon-to-be light rail stop, has thought about it. He sees both opportunities and concerns.
“When looking at light rail, we looked at Portland State,” Brown said. “Based on their three-year average, they saw a 10 percent increase in attendance.”
So access to the college is good, but what are the concerns?
“We’ve been open about student housing and are moving forward with that plan; our students need an affordable opportunity,” Brown said.
Overall, Dr. Brown sees this light rail stop as something the North Seattle area has always needed.
“I think it will bring two sides of the North Seattle neighborhood together. We’re divided by I-5 and, hopefully, the new pedestrian bridge will do that.”
Will the train station bring north Seattle together? We’ll find out in 2021, or later, if the project is delayed.