Knute Berger |

The coming boom spurred by a new Sound Transit light rail station and a possible rezone of the University District for transit-oriented development poses some interesting challenges. Here’s one: With density and possible gentrification in the offing, can inclusive public spaces such as parks and plazas be part of the plans? Or will efforts to include public space be derailed by the mad desire for density and worries about abetting the District’s homeless youth population?

One much-discussed concept to add open space is the U District Square proposal. A group of architects and university residents wants to close off Brooklyn Ave. at the new light rail station and turn it into a public plaza. Their concept drawings show a two-block stretch alongside University Tower (and between 45th NE and 43rd NE) that would be closed to most traffic and host a variety of community-building activities, including the neighborhood’s farmer’s market. The space would feature trees, benches and an area for outdoor concerts or films. Some of the plaza would be taken up by the large entrances to the underground station, but the plan’s proponents say these surface eyesores could be incorporated into their concept. Read more