Capitol Hill residents feeling growing pains of light rail
08:33 AM PDT on Thursday, August 7, 2008
By JANE MCCARTHY / KING 5 News
As Sound Transit plans to bring light rail to Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood, many residents are feeling the growing pains and coming up with ways to minimize the impact.
Several empty buildings along Broadway will be demolished for light rail, but many residents call the area an eyesore. Over the next eight years, Sound Transit will be building an underground light rail station at the location. But eight years is a long time and residents say something needs to be done to keep some life in this part of their neighborhood.
The area had been a stretch of thriving Broadway businesses. Today, it's more fit for pigeons than for people.
"It gets a little dodgy at night," said Lucy Grossman, Capitol Hill resident. "It's really dark because none of the building fronts have anything going on in them."
Several buildings along Broadway are a casualty of Capitol Hill's planned light rail station. It'll be valuable when it opens in 2016, but in the meantime.
"It's pretty tough to feel great about a real empty space," Justin Carder, Capitol Hill Community Council.
People are continually breaking into the buildings. It's a prime target for trash and graffiti, which is why the Capitol Hill Community Council is asking Sound Transit to allow them to keep the lights on in the area.
Instead of plodding through the next eight years with a black hole, residents want to use the space for things like community meetings and art shows.
"There's all sorts of ways to get the community involved with these buildings to make sure they don't stand empty," said Carder.
But Sound Transit told KING 5 that's just not safe because the buildings are already being dismantled from the inside. Still, Sound Transit appears open to the conversation. In an e-mail sent to the community council, Sound Transit writes:
"We feel there are a number of events that our organizations could co-host to the benefit of the neighborhood."
They suggest potential walking tours of the construction site and they plan on dressing up the vacant buildings with art. Residents applaud those ideas, but say it will take a little more creativity to create a lasting impact.
"So, let's try and do that. Let's try and go above and beyond," said Carder.
So the conversation continues. Sound Transit plans on starting to demolish the buildings at the end of the year. In the meantime, they plan on trying to dress up the outside with some art.