Who We Are
We are a group of local residents and business owners working to achieve the community’s vision for a successful Town Center near the Mount Baker light link station in North Rainier Valley. We believe proactive planning and implementation of infrastructure is desperately needed to overcome recognized deficits in open space and pedestrian connections. We are working with partners to bring in the infrastructure investment that is essential to make a dense transit oriented community livable, vibrant and attractive for current and future residents, visitors, businesses and developers. We are an inclusive organization that welcomes as members any resident or business who agrees with our mission to create a Town Center that is connected, vibrant and supportive of community and business development.
- RE-CONNECT THE HISTORIC OLMSTED PARKWAYS of Mount Baker Boulevard and Cheasty Boulevard with a pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly crossing at the dangerous intersection of Rainier Avenue South and Marin Luther King Jr. Way South. UPDATE: The Accessible Mount Baker project has provided an elegant solution to this key mission, and we support SDOT and the City in its effort to bring this transformative project on line in 2021.
- CREATE AN ATTRACTIVE USABLE OPEN SPACE in the heart of the new Mount Baker Town Center that will bridge the serious open space gaps identified by the City, and
- CREATE A PUBLIC PLAZA to support local business and community development.
Stakeholders & Supporters
Our mission benefits many stakeholders – residents, students, the elderly and disabled, transit riders, bicyclists, businesses and employees, property owners and developers. We have broad support from local residents, businesses, and nonprofit partners including: Friends of Seattle’s Olmsted Parks, Beacon BIKES, Southeast Effective Development (SEED), Seattle Green Spaces Coalition, Urban Wilderness Project, and the Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Board.
Seattle Parks Foundation is our fiscal sponsor.
What Is A Town Center?
On paper, the Town Center is to be “the gateway to Southeast Seattle”, where “public places and open spaces help create a sense of identity and welcome, “the heart of the neighborhood”, “where people will gather, shop, stroll and enjoy community life”, “a thriving, safe, attractive pedestrian and transit friendly residential/commercial center.” Mount Baker Town Center Urban Design Framework, Seattle. The City created the Mount Baker Town Center on July 3, 2014, when it rezoned the area surrounding Mount Baker light rail station for development up to 125’ high. Now it is time to invest in the public amenities needed to ensure this dense community will be attractive to development and livable for residents.
The vision of a well-connected and pedestrian friendly Town Center will require significant investment. The rezone area is uninviting and dangerous to pedestrians. The City’s Park Gaps Analysis identified the rezone area as failing to meet the minimum standards for usable open space. Right now the area is dominated by two major traffic corridors intersecting next to the rail station: Rainier Avenue and Martin Luther King Junior Way. These corridors break the original Olmsted Boulevard Connection – which was to serve as an attractive linkage between Lake Washington and Beacon Hill. A 1976 pedestrian overpass is unattractive and uninviting, with steep corkscrew ramps that are difficult to climb, and a challenge for all but the strongest bicyclists. Franklin High School students and others routinely sprint across eight or more lanes of traffic to make it to school, or to the rail station. The area is a concrete and traffic dominated hardscape. Now this problematic area is targeted for dense development, with buildings up to 65’, 85’ and 125’. The future residents of this diverse southeast Seattle community deserve the same quality environment that other great Seattle neighborhoods enjoy. A meaningful usable open space must be within walking distance for Town Center families and employees. They need a sense of place, with breathing room. A Town Center requires an attractive sense of place, which will also spur economic development and attract higher quality employers to this community.
How You Can Help:
Contact us at Towncenterfriends@gmail.com, follow us on Twitter @MtBakerFriends, share ideas, attend community meetings in 2015, join in street clean ups. Donate through Seattle Parks Foundation. Thank you!
Bridging the Gaps
We commend the Seattle Department of Transportation for its collaborative approach on the Accessible Mount Baker project which, if fully funded, will provide a major foundation for equitable transit oriented development. The project would address the first objective of our organization, and lay the groundwork for additional amenities for a successful placemaking effort.
- A safe reconnection of the historic Olmsted Boulevards – one of the most important community assets in the area
- A neighborhood park needed to bridge the open space gaps identified in the City’s Park Gaps Analysis
- A plaza area that can be activated by local businesses and residents.
In sum, creating a Town Center in this difficult location requires more than high density and wide sidewalks with trees. Significant investment is needed to create a Center. Thanks for your support!