Light Rail is Coming to Mountlake Terrace. Here’s How the Neighborhood is Changing
Even though the Sound Transit light rail station isn’t coming to Mountlake Terrace until 2024, the neighborhood around the station is already seeing signs of change. The new light rail station will be located on the east side of I-5, where the current Mountlake Terrace Transit Center is, just below Veterans Memorial Park. The light rail will carry passengers from Mountlake Terrace to Westlake Station in downtown Seattle in about 25 minutes. The East Link, opening in 2023, will be an additional attraction to those who commute to jobs on the Eastside.
In September 2019, the City of Mountlake Terrace adopted new zoning designations for the area around the light rail station which will be the new “Town Center.” From I-5 over to 55th Ave W and From 230th St SW to 237th St SW were rezoned into three distinct districts.
District 1, which is located closest to the transit center and flanking 236th St SW, will allow building heights of up to 12-stories. District 2 will allow building heights of up to 8 stories, and will be the activity, dining and retail hub along 56th and 57th Ave W. District 3 runs south of 230th St SW and along 55th Ave W on the west side and will allow building heights up to 6 stories. There is also an additional district called the Reserve District which will be designated for multi-family, retail outlets and office space which runs further south on 56th Ave W.
There are also plans for a reinvigorated civic campus that includes a new city Hall, expanded Police Station, and town center plaza with additional parking added.
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The rezone area is only a relatively small portion of the downtown Mountlake Terrace core. According to the City of Mountlake Terrace Comprehensive Plan from 2017, the population of Mountlake Terrace is expected to increase to approximately 25,000 people by 2035. With the current housing stock, it was estimated that about 2,000 more household units are needed by that time. Much of the existing housing stock is also old (approximately half of all existing homes were built before 1970, and only 6% were built since 2000.)
If you walk around Mountlake Terrace today, you can already see signs that the city is preparing for an influx of development and residents. 236th St SW has been recently repaved to include bike lanes and wider sidewalks, with the hopes of making the downtown core more bike and pedestrian friendly. Large apartment buildings are under construction along the main thoroughfares, and multi-family townhome developments are popping up between single-family lots. As the opening of the light rail station gets closer, expect to see more changes along 236th St SW and 56th Ave W.
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