The Transit Center Parking Crunch
Anyone who commutes via the MLT Transit Center likely knows that the parking is typically full by 7:30 or 8 AM.
What's seems to be clear is that the community would like more parking at the Transit Center. Another large, ugly, concrete parking garage or another surface lot is likely not the best use of the land in an urbanizing neighborhood like the Town Center. So I think it's important to look at how other urbanizing suburbs have dealt with increasing parking at transit centers that are in urban areas.
King County Metro has partnered with developers at several transit stations to create transit oriented development while also creating more parking space for park-and-ride users. The Village at Overlake Station in Redmond combines rental housing, a day care facility, and a park-and-ride/transit center into a single integrated use. It includes two levels of covered parking with 536 parking stalls and 308 income restricted rental housing units. The garage provides shared parking for use by both residents and park-and-ride commuters. The South Kirkland TOD is a similar project with over 870 park-and-ride stalls, 58 income restricted rental housing units, 184 market rate rental housing units, and several retail spot. Metrolpolitan Place in Renton is another similar project with 90 rental housing units, 4,000 square feet of retail, and 240 parking spots which are shared by park-and-ride users and residents.
The need to provide additional parking during construction of the MLT light rail station and the community's desire for more permanent parking could create an opportunity for a future project similar to what Metro has done. Construction of Lynnwood Link is set to occur between 2018 and 2023 and for much of that time the existing surface parking lot at the MLT Transit Center will not be usable. Sound Transit will need to replace those 200 parking spots, at least temporarily, elsewhere.
If you look at the area immediately surrounding the Transit Center there isn't a great place to locate even a temporary parking lot unless you want to take down a bunch of trees. The old Evergreen Elementary site to the south may have been a good candidate but development planned for that site removes it as an option.
If you zoom in closer, though, another option starts to emerge. The green shading in the image below indicates lots that are in the Town Center zone. These lots are currently zoned for building heights up to 5 stories. The parking lot on the left is what would need to be at least temporarily located elsewhere. Notice the size of the culdesac on the right.
The current 200+ stall parking spots would fit conveniently in the 59th Pl W culdesac and adjacent parcels. Below I've overlaid the parking lot in the culdesac.
Sound Transit could purchase the 8 parcels in the 59th Pl W cul de sac, use the area as a surface parking lot during construction and start planning for a TOD project on the cul de sac property with shared park-and-ride spots. Due to the change in elevation along 236th, the TOD development could have a garage entrance accessed from the Transit Center below for park and ride users and a separate entrance off 236th above for residential and commercial users.
As long as we have free parking for transit center users we will never be able to keep up with demand, but this solution could help bridge that gap a bit without another big, ugly concrete garage or surface lot destroying our urban fabric and separating our downtown from high capacity transit.