Supporters of a European-style plaza outside Sound Transit’s future U-District Station are still being heard, despite a land deal sealed Thursday allowing the University of Washington to develop the site. The backers, including former City Councilman Peter Steinbrueck, made their case Thursday to the UW Board of Regents.
The light-rail stop is to open in 2021 and serve 12,000 boardings a day. That means about 24,000 people would pass through the site at Brooklyn Avenue Northeast next to Northeast 45th Street.
Philip Thiel, a retired UW architecture professor who lives a half-mile away,has suggested developing the area as open space for farmers markets, stage performances, and social chats for transit riders. Opponents worry that Seattle can’t control its existing open space and an open plaza would attract loitering or crime.
The UW hasn’t decided what to build yet, and wouldn’t break ground for five years, said spokesman Norm Arkans. What he’s heard discussed so far is “housing with ground-level public space,” including possible retail space for such things as cafes.
The land deal, endorsed by a Regents’ committee Thursday morning, calls for Sound Transit to pay the UW $4.67 million for the ground and easements owned now by the university; and then the UW pays Sound Transit $4.58 million for future air rights above the tunnel station, for a net payment of $87,000 from Sound Transit to UW. The 22-story UW Tower next to the site employs at least 1,500 people, Arkans said.