SUNSET REVITALIZATION

Background

Nestled just east of I-405, the Sunset Area emerged as publicly funded worker housing to support World War II and grew to include multi-family housing, schools, shopping areas, and civic buildings.  For several decades the Sunset Area was a stable neighborhood, but over time homeownership declined, housing maintenance was deferred, social support systems decreased while environmental problems and crime increased.   In 2006, the City took the first steps in the Sunset Area Revitalization Program by engaging a Zoning Task Force which reworked comprehensive plan policies and zoning to create an urban village of mixed income, mixed use housing in a compact, walkable neighborhood.  A Phase II Task Force in 2008 furthered the smart growth vision for the neighborhood with recommendations that included a distinctive neighborhood amenity, or “third place,” that would combine parks and recreational facilities, a library, commercial space, and affordable housing, in a true community center linked together by a “green connections” trail system that would also provide low-impact storm water facilities.  This visioning work was supported in 2009 with the adoption of the Sunset Area Community Investment Strategy outlining a series of implementation priorities, the first of which was to complete a Planned Action for the Sunset Area, which was adopted in 2011.  The Planned Action analyzed redevelopment alternatives for the Sunset Area including complete street improvements for SR 900, a sub-regional storm water system based on low-impact development principles, and redevelopment of the outdated Sunset Terrace public housing project into a mixed-income development.

Sunset Future Vision

Strategic and Innovative Investment for a Livable Community

The Sunset Area Revitalization Program is intended to accomplish major redevelopment in transportation, storm water control, mixed-income housing, and community amenities.  Unlike other similar redevelopments of publicly owned War Era public housing projects, Renton has a small public housing authority and there are multiple property owners to coordinate in this effort making it difficult to secure large federal grants as a redevelopment catalyst.  Instead, the Program relies on partnerships and strategic public investment for implementation.  Renton Housing Authority (RHA) has partnered with the City of Renton from the beginning of the Program, and the Renton School District (RSD) joined us in formulating the Community Investment Strategy.  These partnerships have been the basis for the first major investments to implement the Program.  RHA and the City made a significant investment in the EIS and Planned Action that will help to facilitate future development in this area.  The first project to benefit from the Planned Action has now completed construction.  RHA’s Glennwood Townhomes will serve as replacement housing for the eight largest families in the Sunset Terrace Public Housing project and was partially financed with money from the King County Housing Finance Program and supported by fee waivers and a multi-family property tax exemption offered by the City.   RSD broke ground on a state of the art $25 million Early Childhood Learning Center in the Sunset Area in Spring 2012 and is currently working jointly with the City and local service clubs to plan an ADA accessible playground near their facility.  King County Library System and the City will broke ground in 2013 on a new library, which is the cornerstone of the neighborhood “third place” and located on land currently owned by RHA and will be co-located with 112 units of new private market-rate housing and ground-floor retail space.  Adjacent to the new library, RHA is working with Providence Health Care to create affordable housing for seniors and veterans.

Meadowcrest Early Childhood Learning Center

Increased Opportunities to Walk, Bike & Access Public Transit

One of the major barriers to revitalization of the Sunset Area has been SR 900, which physically splits the community in half and is not designed to encourage pedestrian or bicycle circulation.  As part of the Sunset Area Revitalization Program the City took a dual approach at eliminating this barrier by applying complete streets principles and creating “green connections.”   Complete streets principles will be applied to SR 900 to improve opportunities for multi-modal transportation by providing bike lanes, increasing space for transit shelters, creating planting strips that calm traffic and provide a pedestrian buffer, enlarging sidewalks, improving crosswalks, and providing better street and sidewalk lighting.  Design for this corridor has been included in the City’s Transportation Improvement Program.  As redevelopment occurs in the rest of the neighborhood and surrounding streets will also be upgraded consistent with City complete streets standards.  The Program notably goes one step further by creating “green connections.”  Major pedestrian corridors that link community amenities will be enhanced with landscaping, benches and rain gardens that promote low-impact storm water development and create a park-like system of pathways.  This builds upon the system of pathways and shortcuts originally built for a community that was less dependent upon automobile transportation than it is today and is unique to the Sunset Area.

Public Support

Since 2006, the Sunset Area Revitalization Program has been driven by the public.  Residents and business owners have shaped the policies and priorities that are the force behind the Program.  As the first implementation measures began, the community has been able to watch their vision materialize before them, born of innovation and community partnership in a livable community.  For this reason, the Sunset Area Revitalization Program is submitted for a VISION 2040 award.

For more information you can visit the City of Renton's Sunset page.

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