The Transformation Of A Light Rail Corridor

<p>Seattle's new light rail line is poised to usher in a new era for Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Though most are excited about the new development, the fear of gentrification has made some residents worry that they won't be around to reap the benefits.</p>
April 22, 2008, 9am PDT | Christian Madera | @cpmadera
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"When Sound Transit decided to run the region's first light-rail line down MLK a decade ago, backers predicted it would spark a redevelopment boom in one of Seattle's poorest, most neglected, most ethnically diverse corridors.

Now, at last, that prediction is starting to come true.

Over the past year private, for-profit developers have proposed more than 1,500 condo and apartment units within a 10-minute walk of a rail station. They will be the Rainier Valley's first multifamily projects built without government subsidies in more than 30 years, city officials say."

"But the specter of gentrification looms. MLK is a cornucopia of diversity - Chinese herb shops, Vietnamese video stores, Somali money-transfer offices, Filipino meat markets and restaurants that serve everything from soul food and tortas to goat curry and pho.

Smith and others say rising rents and real-estate prices already are forcing out some businesses and residents and threatening to dilute this rich ethnic stew.

Government officials, community organizations - and developers - all say they want to prevent that, to make sure the valley's renaissance benefits those who are already here."

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Published on Sunday, April 20, 2008 in The Seattle Times
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