Region Of Boom | KUOW News and Information

Region Of Boom

Bellevue's new light rail tunnel will open in 2023
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

On Friday, Sound Transit finished a major milestone in bringing light rail to Bellevue: excavating a tunnel under the city's downtown. 

Seattle's Chinatown-International District
Flickr Photo/Curtis Cronn (CC BY NC ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/9hVGFD

The Chinatown International District will soon become a light rail hub in Seattle. Lines from Bellevue (2023), West Seattle (2030) and Ballard (2035) are planned to connect here. 

Sam Farrazaino poses for a portrait on Wednesday, July 11, 2018, in his office at Equinox Studios in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Georgetown is only five miles south of downtown Seattle, but it feels like another city. Instead of gleaming skyscrapers, this is a neighborhood of modest wood homes and low-slung warehouses that shudder every time a plane roars away from nearby Boeing Field. Michigan Avenue slices through the community, a path for the trucks that rumble between the interstate and the factories on East Marginal Way.


Target is building a tiny store in Seattle' s U-District
Rendering by Target

For some, this story could be just one sentence punctuated with approximately 28 exclamation points: Target is coming to the University District.


Sarah Kleehamer, a volunteer projectionist, removes a reel from the wall on Tuesday, June 12, 2018, at Grand Illusion Cinema in Seattle. Kleehammer has been volunteering at the cinema for 15 years.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Growth is skyrocketing in the U-District. This is good for property values, but also means that a lot of longtime business are leaving: Hardwick’s Hardware, the Weaving Works yarn supply, and the original Pagliacci Pizza store are among the recent victims.


Niki Keenan at work in her home studio
photo courtesy of the artist

It’s no secret that Seattle’s hot housing market is driving up property values and squeezing out affordable places to live. But for thousands of Seattle artists, high rent on light industrial spaces is squeezing out affordable places to work.

The M, a 24 floor residential tower being built on the site of a gas station, is part of a wave of development expected in Seattle's U-District
NBBJ

Development in Seattle is slowing down. But in the U-District, there's little sign of that. 


Flickr Photo/craterdweller (CC BY-NC-ND)

Housing prices in metropolitan Seattle are rising by more than $5 an hour, every hour of every day, according to the Puget Sound Regional Council.


A 40-mile long commuter corridor worth of improvements and linking two major highways. This could happen in 5-1/2 years, if the legislature approves.
Image courtesy of WSDOT

Move over, Interstate 5: The section of I-405 from Renton to Bellevue is now the state's most congested highway.

Flickr Photo/Howard Ignatius (CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/nZ4Mz1

Washington state’s population grew by 117,000 people this year from last, to 7.4 million people. That’s like gaining a city the size of Everett.

A postcard of Snoqualmie Falls, from the nearby gift shop
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Seattle is surrounded by water. It’s one of the reasons why people move here.

But even in rainy, water-abundant Seattle, the region’s astronomical growth has given rise to new conflicts over water rights for people and salmon. 


A street sign on Aurora Avenue North, part of the historic highway 99
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Over the past few months, a team of KUOW reporters has explored the impact of growth along Highway 99 from North Seattle down to Tukwila. Reporter Joshua McNichols told Kim Malcolm why they followed this road and what they learned along the way.

The sun sets on downtown Seattle on Friday, October 27, 2017, shown from Harbor Ave. Southwest.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Now that the construction boom that made the city of Seattle rich is starting to decline—and putting newfound pressure on homelessness spending—it’s time to ask where the money went.

After analyzing the city’s budgets over the last eight years, we found some answers.

Mike West has watched Tukwila change from his spot beside the (former) highway 99 since 1971.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Mike West likes to watch for someone from out of town to walk by on Tukwila International Boulevard. He leans out  the door of the auto shop he's occupied since 1971.

"Hey, you want to see something?" he asks.

He's semi-retired now, so he has a lot of time for this kind of thing.


Ali Jama stands behind the counter of Havenice Day Jewelry on Thursday, April 19, 2018, in Tukwila.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Meet Ali Jama. He owns a jewelry store with a clever name: Haveniceday Jewelry.

“A simple name that everybody can remember and say it without having any difficulties," he said. 


These three women are among hundreds of seniors moving to Tukwila International Boulevard, a stretch of the former highway 99 once known for crime and prostitution.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

The city of Tukwila has spent years trying to turn a section of old highway 99 into a dense, walkable neighborhood. But it’s not easy to redefine a road. Now, Tukwila is getting some help from an unlikely population: seniors. 


Victoria Marshall is one of hundreds of seniors who live in subsidized senior housing just off Aurora. She has a view of the lake, but says she feels profoundly disconnected from civic and cultural life.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Victoria Marshall was born in 1945, and she’s full of stories. She can talk about the four years she was homeless, about raising kids, or about her deep knowledge of animals, which she sometimes shares with people at the zoo.


Men exit the Abu-Bakr Islamic Center after prayer on Friday, April 20, 2018, in Tukwila.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

For years, Tukwila’s stretch of highway 99 was known for its crime: drug sales, prostitution, burglaries and violence. Then one morning in 2013, hundreds of police officers raided the old motels where most of those crimes were happening.

Mohammed Jama ran a small shop next to the motels. He’s part of the large Somali and refugee community centered around the Abu Bakr mosque in Tukwila. 

He told us the raid changed his life.


De'Sean Quinn shows his prized possession: the key to one of the motels that used to dominate Tukwila's stretch of the old highway 99.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Everything had to work perfectly.


This stretch of 99 is looking more walkable today because Tukwila took it from the state.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

It started with street trees. Tukwila wanted to plant some along state Route 99 to slow down traffic and beautify the area.

But the state said no. Trees, it turned out, were not safe, at least not as safe as lamp posts. 


Volunteers count the number of people experiencing homelessness during the annual King County Point-In-Time count on Friday, January 25, 2018, in Pioneer Square.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Is Seattle the sort of place where, if you can’t afford it, there’s no room for you?


Tukwila International Boulevard, which was once highway 99, is at the heart of our Tukwila reporting.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Tukwila, a small city of about 20,000 people, punches above its weight.

That's partly because it's willing to throw elbows around, seizing property by any legal means necessary in order to turn an aging remnant of highway 99 into the dense, walkable neighborhood many officials want. The technique is effective, but it can leave bruises.


The sun sets on downtown Seattle on Friday, October 27, 2017, shown from Harbor Ave. Southwest.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

More than a hundred heads of Seattle companies are saying no to Seattle’s head tax proposal. In an open letter to the Seattle City Council, they say it doesn’t make sense to punish businesses for creating jobs.

The letter’s signatories include the heads of Alaska Airlines, Tableau, and Expedia.

KUOW Photo/Carolyn Adolph

When Highway 99 becomes a tunnel and the Viaduct comes down next year, Seattle starts work on the waterfront of its dreams. There’ll be a bike corridor, a walk-up to Pike Place Market — even a play area for kids.

And one special group of property owners is being singled out to pay. 

The Alaskan Way Viaduct is shown on Friday, March 9, 2018, in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Kim Malcolm talks with reporter Carolyn Adolph about the risks faced by the state of Washington as it considers tolling the Highway 99 Tunnel. 


From left, Abdi Adan and Tawfik Maudah read over the  demands that they will make before entering Tukwila City Hall with community members and business owners on Thursday, April 19, 2018, in Tukwila.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Business owners and community members marched to Tukwila City Hall last Thursday to deliver a letter protesting a proposed police station and courthouse that would displace two dozen small businesses, most owned by East African refugees.

Cameras on the Highway 520 bridge take pictures of license plates as vehicles pass to assess tolls.
Flickr Photo/Wonderlane (CC-BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/9ftjw3

Drivers will have a free ride on the state Route 99 tunnel in Seattle when it first opens this fall. After a few months, however, expect to pay a toll of $1.00-$2.50 for each trip.

The Washington State Transportation Commission has proposed multiple tolling options and will present them in public meetings this spring. 


An Emergency Evacuation Route sign is shown on Tuesday, March 27, 2018, inside the SR 99 tunnel in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Soon, state Route 99 — and the rest of us —will have a new asset: a completed Alaskan Way tunnel.

The $3.2 billion tunnel provides an earthquake-safe route under our downtown. However, the state highway department says it’s taken the highway off its list of Seismic Lifeline routes


Safety representative for the Seattle Tunnel Partners, Marisa Roddick, wears stickers on her helmet for each year that she has worked on the tunnel project, from 2013 to 2018, on Tuesday, March 27, 2018, in Seattle.
KUOW photo/Megan Farmer

When Seattle's Alaskan Way Viaduct was built in the 1950s, we didn't know much about earthquakes. California's Loma Prieta quake in 1989 opened our eyes when their viaduct collapsed and crushed 41 people. 

And when the Nisqually quake in 2001 damaged our own viaduct, it sealed the deal for officials: The viaduct had to go.

Commuters ride the E Line bus southbound on Aurora Avenue North, around 5:30 a.m., on Wednesday, April 11, 2018, in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

The RapidRide E Line is Seattle's most crowded bus route, with more than 17,000 boardings each weekday. It connects Aurora Avenue North to downtown.

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