Skip Navigation

Welcome

Overview

The time is now, and an expanded light rail system is coming to Chinatown International District and Pioneer Square. King County is creating a master plan for significant changes to their downtown campus, and the City of Seattle is working on multiple planning efforts to help guide future growth in Seattle. The time to support beloved communities is now, as well as identify ways to ensure strength and continuity ahead of the changes that will come.

This effort is collaborative. The development of the vision for the South Downtown Hub is built on past community planning efforts and supported by the City of Seattle, King County, and Sound Transit, who are all working in partnership with the community members to realize visions put forward by the community neighborhoods.

This place is critical. The South Downtown study goes beyond the Ballard Link Extension (BLE) station areas that serve the CID and Pioneer Square neighborhoods. It is a comprehensive approach to the area, connecting and supporting the history and strength of the people and businesses that make these neighborhoods special.

The community is key. This is the opportunity for you to shape the future. This work serves the community first and will only be successful in co-creation with our communities. With regional connections expanding, this area will change. The ideas and opportunities to protect, support, and grow the legacy that these communities hold will come best from within. The workshop series described below is the opportunity to leverage those ideas for better planning across the multiple agencies doing the work.

Background

The idea of a South Downtown Hub plan emerged from Sound Transit’s Further Studies work for the Ballard Link Extension Project in late 2022 into early 2023, during which the Chinatown-International District (CID) and Pioneer Square communities shared ideas and opportunities to improve the South Downtown area. In March 2023, the Sound Transit Board identified a preferred alternative in the CID, which includes a station north and a station south of the CID. The Board also responded to the community’s South Downtown area feedback by giving Sound Transit direction to work with the City of Seattle, King County, and other potential partners. This group, in partnership with the community, will further develop South Downtown improvement ideas and explore funding and partnership opportunities.

Sound Transit, with the City of Seattle and King County, continues to partner with the community through a workshop series and additional engagement opportunities that look at South Downtown cohesively. The series will support the visioning and prioritization of potential investments to streets and public spaces that help connect neighborhoods and regional transit modes, as well as explore opportunities to activate historic buildings and guide new development with community-serving uses. This work goes beyond station locations and takes a comprehensive look at the neighborhoods and how they connect.

Ideas, concepts, and priorities shared at workshops will be compiled into a final plan. The plan will also outline specific project implementation strategies for Sound Transit, the City of Seattle, King County, and potentially other project partners.

Project partners

Sound Transit, in partnership with the City of Seattle and King County, is partnering with the community around the South Downtown Hub planning efforts. What role does each agency play in this work?

Sound Transit
  • Routes and station locations
  • Light rail and commuter rail guideway and station design
  • Environmental review
  • Transit-oriented development associated with station construction
City of Seattle
  • Community planning and station access
  • Land use and zoning
  • Street and right-of-way use
King County
  • Metro transit service
  • Route Planning
  • Civic Campus operations and future planning
Photograph of people inside the Seattle Union Station Image shows people gathering inside the Seattle Union station.

Save the date! South Downtown Hub Workshop 2

Come join us to help shape the future of community and transit connections in the Chinatown-International District (CID) and Pioneer Square neighborhoods. At the July 17 workshop, we’ll review concepts for streets and neighborhood connections we explored in the first workshop with a focus on public space and potential development near existing and future light rail stations.

Wednesday, July 17, 4 – 7pm

Union Station,

401 S Jackson St, Seattle, 98104

Cantonese, Mandarin, and Vietnamese interpretation and translated materials will be available.

What's the latest?

Thank you to everyone that was able to attend Workshop 1 on Feb. 28.

South Downtown Hub Workshop 1 Activity Guide [English + Traditional Chinese] [Simplified Chinese] [Vietnamese]

South Downtown Hub Workshop 1 Ballard Link Extension Packet

Concurrent projects informing the South Downtown Hub plan

Sound Transit, the City of Seattle, and King County are working on various projects happening in the neighborhoods! For background and updates on these projects, visit the websites below.

Ballard Link Extension (Sound Transit)

King Street Station Access Improvements (Sound Transit)

Seattle Transportation Plan (City of Seattle)

2nd Ave S Extension and S Jackson St Bridge Planning Study (City of Seattle)

City Hall Park and Vicinity (City of Seattle)

King County Civic Campus Plan (King County)

Have a question or feedback?

Feel free to send any questions or feedback about South Downtown Hub work to southdowntownhub@soundtransit.org or call us at (206)-903-7223.

Racial Equity Toolkit

Sound Transit and the City of Seattle have partnered on the Racial Equity Toolkit (RET) process for the projects. The RET lays out a process and a set of questions to guide the development, implementation and evaluation of the projects to advance racial equity. The RET process began early in project development, informing data analysis, technical evaluation and the focus and extent of community engagement. During the environmental review phase, the RET builds on the environmental justice assessment for the projects, documenting potential project impacts and benefits, and community feedback. However, given that the RET process is guided by a different framework than the EIS environmental justice requirements, the report on the RET process and findings is structured differently, and is oriented around RET outcomes for the projects. Our RET report on the process, requirements, outcomes, findings and community feedback is available for your reference.

Goals and Timeline

Overview

In their March 2023 Board Motion, the Sound Transit Board acknowledged that regardless of the CID station, South Downtown would benefit from the Union Station activation as well as Jackson Hub improvements. The Board gave Sound Transit direction to work with the City of Seattle, King County, and other potential partners to further develop South Downtown improvement ideas with the community and explore funding and partnership opportunities.

This work will build on recent further studies efforts and past community and agency planning efforts to continue engagement with the community. It will also follow direction from the Sound Transit Board to clarify potential scope and schedule of such improvements as well as funding and partnership opportunities. This work will encompass CID, Pioneer Square, and beyond to improve accessibility through the neighborhoods and to nearby stations and transfer points.

Community themes and project goals

The below themes reflect a summary of priorities identified from past planning studies completed by the community and the City of Seattle. These themes will help guide our South Downtown Hub planning work!

  • Enhance public space, streets, alleys, and open spaces to increase safety, social connections, and physical activity
  • Maximize community benefit and ownership of land
  • Improve mobility and connectivity, particularly between neighborhoods and King Street and Union Station
  • Minimize cumulative harm and/or displacement (small businesses, residents, and nonprofits) and encourage equitable development
  • Improve public safety experience and perceptions
  • Encourage economic development
  • Retain historic and cultural character
  • Acknowledge and address historic racism that has and continues to impact neighborhoods

Process and timeline

(Click to enlarge)
Open house – Nov. 15, 2023
  • Answer community questions
  • South Downtown Hub opportunities and past plan review
Workshop 1: Overall Concepts – Feb. 28, 2024
  • Big picture visioning
  • Co-create overall concepts for community and hub connections
Workshop 2: Focused Concepts – spring/summer 2024
  • Area-specific opportunities and issues
  • Develop concepts for connections and places
Workshop 3: Refined Concepts – winter 2024
  • Refine and visualize specific project concepts
  • Confirm concepts for connections and places
Workshops 4 and 5: Putting it All Together – TBD in 2025
  • Assemble and prioritize project concepts into a comprehensive plan
  • Develop and endorse approach to implementation

Community Resources

Overview

The South Downtown Hub plan builds upon years of work and community development planning efforts already completed in the CID, Pioneer Square, and beyond. South Downtown Hub agency partners will work together to plan projects that enhance public space, streets, and alleys to increase safety, access, and social connections, while addressing impacts from past harms of historic racism and displacement. The South Downtown Hub plan will coordinate with current projects to minimize harmful impacts to the communities.

Previous plans informing the South Downtown Hub plan
Concurrent projects informing the South Downtown Hub plan

Kickoff Open House

South Downtown Hub planning kickoff

On Nov. 15, 2023, Sound Transit, the City of Seattle, and King County hosted an open house to kick off upcoming engagement opportunities in the Chinatown-International District. More than 150 people attended the event, staffed by Sound Transit, partner agencies, consultants, Community Liaisons, and Cantonese, and Mandarin language interpreters.

Attendees were invited to learn about the South Downtown Hub planning work, a partnership with Sound Transit, the City of Seattle, and King County. This open house kicked off a workshop series to partner with community members to envision and identify potential improvement projects in the South Downtown area. Attendees had the opportunity to share feedback about community values and priorities as well as placemaking and place-keeping ideas in the Pioneer Square and Chinatown-International District neighborhoods.

(Click to enlarge)
Key findings and outcomes
  • Interest in learning about the planning and design process for the light rail stations
  • Opportunities for affordable housing and commercial development in the neighborhood
  • Opportunities in improving walkability in the neighborhood including greater pedestrian access and connections
  • General Agreement on community themes and project goals
  • Interest in intentional design for safety at stations, on roads, and in public spaces
  • Interest in learning about access and transfers to the light rail and exploring opportunities to better integrate transit
Open house materials

Photograph of people inside the Seattle Union Station Photograph of people inside the Seattle Union Station.