City preparing Everett Station area for growth

EVERETT — The city’s central bus and rail hub stands to gain a multistory parking garage in the coming years to accommodate more riders.

It’s one of the changes that could transform Everett Station during the next decade. The city also is looking to roll out the welcome mat to developers interested in building apartments or condos nearby.

The garage would add at least 500 parking spaces plus extra bus bays at the site of an existing lot south of the Everett Station building. That would come on top of the approximately 1,000 stalls now, increasing parking by more than 50 percent.

The city is preparing to pick an engineering firm to more closely study the project, which is unlikely to start for another five years or so.

“We want to be prepared for expected growth; we don’t want to be caught unprepared,” Everett Transit director Tom Hingson said. “If we wait until we’re absolutely jam-packed, that’s even more impact on the community than if we do it sooner.”

The city has a $300,000 Federal Transit Administration grant for the study. The grant was awarded in 2009 and would expire in 2014 if unused. The study is expected to finish up in mid-2013.

Building the garage is estimated to cost $15 million to $18 million, though the consultant should help give the city a better handle on the price, Hingson said.

The new parking garage would occupy the area known as Lot B. It’s now a 240-stall parking lot for commuters, building tenants and patrons. The site is adjacent to the railroad tracks, a station for Community Transit’s Swift bus and Smith Avenue.

Separate from the parking study, city planners are exploring possible ways to encourage multifamily housing and shops near Everett Station. They invited neighboring property owners and others to an informational meeting Wednesday.

The current thinking is to rezone the 10-acre Everett Station site to allow the multifamily housing. As part of the proposal, height limits would rise to 80 feet, from 65 feet now.

Those changes are intended to make the area more attractive for what planners call “transit-oriented development.”

“There’s no proposal at this point,” said Dave Koenig, Everett’s planning and community development manager. “This would just allow for it (condos and apartments) to be done as an outright use.”

The proposed rezone is scheduled to reach to the city Planning Commission in the spring, Koenig said.

Everett Station marked its 10th anniversary in February, having tallied more than 17 million visitors. It serves Everett Transit, Community Transit and Sound Transit, including Sounder trains, plus Amtrak and Greyhound. Island Transit and Skagit Transit buses stop there as well.

Use is expected to grow over the next decade.

Connecting Everett to the light rail spine along I-5 is part of Sound Transit’s long-term plan, though there’s no estimated date for making it happen.

More details could emerge from a study Sound Transit plans for the Lynnwood-to-Everett corridor.

“How Everett Station fits into those plans is still to be determined,” agency spokesman Bruce Gray said.

Light rail isn’t due to reach Lynnwood until 2023.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465, nhaglund@heraldnet.com.

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