Tukwila residents are invited to share their ideas to help shape the future of Tukwila International Boulevard (TIB).
The city and the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) will host the TIB Community Workshop on Feb. 23-25.
CNU — a nonprofit organization with the mission of creating vibrant and walkable cities, towns and neighborhoods — will have its annual conference in Seattle in May.
Each year the organization, through its Legacy Project, puts on workshops in cities in the region of that year’s conference to help empower local leaders, advocates and residents to implement new urbanist principles and build places where people and businesses can thrive and prosper.
Tukwila applied and was selected to have CNU come to the city to explore opportunities, identify crucial roadblocks, engage local residents in visioning and generate top-of-the-line designs and strategies.
The workshop will be in Community Room 1 at the Church by the Side of the Road, 3455 S. 148th St., Tukwila. There will be two public session, one from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 23, and the second from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25.
The public is also invited to stop in to observe the discussion between 10:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 24.
“We really want people to come to both the opening and the closing so they can see what we (heard), what are the issues coming out and what these recommendations are,” said Moira Bradshaw, senior planner for the city’s Department of Community Development.
Public input is crucial to the process, Bradshaw said.
“This is a long-term process,” she said. “We won’t be making any quick, fast, immediate decisions. We will be making them over the course of the year coming up. We often hear from the public when we are toward the end of the process, ‘I didn’t know this was going on.’ So we want to get the word out that we are starting this process, and it is important to be involved from the beginning, because it is an evolution. They need to be involved at the beginning, to understand and to have their input and provide some direction in that evolution.”
TIB has been an ongoing project for more than 25 years, Bradshaw said.
“This has been a major focus of the city since that area annexed in 1989 and ’91,” Bradshaw said. “Significant money and resources have been spent on that. This is actually the second planning effort.”
In the late 1990s, the city adopted a TIB revitalization plan.
“We added an urban renewal component to that when the street was initially upgraded,” Bradshaw said. “When it first came into the city it had no sidewalks. We undergrounded all the overhead power lines. We added transit facilities and landscaping.”
Through previous discussion, community members have indicated an interest in having TIB be more of a main street than a highway, Brashaw said.
“It still feels like a highway and not a main street, and the city community has said we want a main street,” she said. “So maybe that needs to have on-street parking. Maybe that needs to be narrower. Certainly it wants to be slower speeds. There wants to be easier crossing. The question is what changes do we need to make in our city infrastructure — which might call for a budget amendment — what budget programs might be recommended as a part of this process. Do we need more open space? Do we need another park out there?”
The community workshops will kick off the implementation phase of the project.
“This is just another major milestone that’s been going along since that area annexed since 1991, and the city has not let up on this,” Bradshaw said. “It is time to take a look back and say what worked, what didn’t, what’s new out there (and) what needs to change. It’s a great kickoff event for us for this next phase of planning for that area.”
At the end of the workshops, the CNU team will present its ideas and give a formal presentation at the CNU conference, scheduled for May 3-6 at various locations in downtown Seattle.
The findings of the study could lead to code changes on TIB to accommodate future development, Bradshaw said.
There are several projects underway along TIB, including Tukwila Village at South 144th Street. That development includes a new Foster Library branch of the King County Library System — expected to open this spring — a plaza, a community room and a cafe, as well as senior housing and retail.
South of Tukwila Village is the site of four motels seized by a federal raid and now owned by the city. HealthPoint – a community-based, nonprofit organization — submitted a proposal to develop a community health center there and is in discussions with the city, although there is not a sale agreement in place.
Bellweather Housing – a Seattle-area nonprofit – is interested in building an affordable housing development on privately owned property south of the motel sites.
The community workshop could identify additional development opportunities along TIB.
“Part of what we are going to do here is engage property owners, business owners, developers, residents on what could go up here,” said Rachel Bianchi, the city’s communications and government relations manager. “It could be through this process that more ideas are brought forward.”
For more information, visit TukwilaWA.gov/TIBPlanning.