Kent adopts design guidelines for when light rail comes to Midway by 2023

The Kent City Council has approved zoning regulations and design guidelines in place for when light rail is scheduled to come to town by 2023 along Pacific Highway South on the West Hill.

The council adopted ordinances at its Dec. 13 meeting to help turn the Midway area into a transit-oriented corridor with high-rise buildings for businesses and residents.

The Midway area stretches for 3 1/2 miles between South 216th Street and South 272nd Street along Pacific Highway South. Kent officials worked with the city of Des Moines to develop zoning regulation and design guidelines for the Envision Midway project. Pacific Highway from South 216th Street to Kent Des Moines Road is in the city of Des Moines.

Sound Transit plans to extend the light rail line from Sea-Tac Airport to South 200th Street in SeaTac by 2016, according to Rachel Smith, a Sound Transit community relations spokeswoman. Sound Transit plans to build light rail to the Highline Community College area near South 240th Street and Pacific Highway in Kent and Des Moines by 2023.

"Adoption of these products will take the vision of Midway forward, provide certainty for property owners and developers, and strengthen the city’s position as Sound Transit conducts an environmental analysis for link light rail and station location in the vicinity of Highline Community College," said city planner Gloria Gould-Wessen in her November report to the city's Economic and Community Development Committee.

A series of public meetings over the last three years helped Kent develop the design guidelines and zoning regulations.

Gould-Wessen said office, commercial and residential uses are allowed to stand alone and can be mixed within the same structure which provides flexibility for developers to respond to market needs.

The city will allow building heights from 55 to 200 feet, which is about 16 stories tall. City officials want to encourage developers to build up rather than the construction of more strip malls.

Gould-Wessen said in her report that it's important to have the design guidelines and development regulations in place so that Kent is ready to affect the station location and rail alignment, apply for grants to move forward with infrastructure development and be able to compete within the current aggressive economic climate.

The goals and polices for Midway include:

• Design guidelines which ensure a level of quality construction, design and site planning.

• City code amendments which provide for a mix of land uses that are compact, well designed and pedestrian-friendly.

• Land-use plan map amendments which include the new designation ‘Transit-Oriented Community.’

• Zoning districts map amendments which include new designations of (1) Midway Transit Community-1 District; (2) Midway Transit Community-2

District; (3) Midway Commercial/Residential District; and (4) a designation of Commercial Manufacturing-2 District.

For more information, go to and search for Midway.

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