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Transit-Oriented Development

The region’s expanding light rail and bus rapid transit stations are providing exciting transit-oriented development (“TOD”) opportunities, but those opportunities come with many challenges.

Local governments and regional powers want to facilitate the development of a complex mix of housing, retail, commercial, and public spaces near mass transit stations. To make way for transit facilities and encourage the type of development they want to see, cities, counties, and transit authorities have made aggressive use of their eminent domain powers, and the multiple government entities involved have created a complex and ever-changing regulatory environment.

Cairncross & Hempelmann’s TOD Group understands the fundamental barriers and opportunities involved in transit-orientated development. Our attorneys have the experience to navigate the many challenges involved with land acquisition and sale, land use permitting, and political challenges. With this knowledge and key relationships, we can help identify and initiate new TOD projects, maximize the value of property near future transit stations, or defend against potential eminent domain actions by Sound Transit or other local government entities.

The TOD Group brings expertise in the areas of land use, real estate acquisition and sale, finance, and litigation. Our attorneys have developed great relationships and experience working with federal, state, and local government officials to make exciting new projects a reality and, when necessary, negotiate compromises when disputes arise. The TOD Group also has established strong relationships with the best consultants in Western Washington working in the areas of land appraisals, real estate brokerage, market analysis, financing, and more.

Areas of Focus

  • Condemnation
  • Land Use
  • Real Estate Transactional Work
  • Parcel Assembly
  • Consulting

Attorneys in the Transit-Oriented Development group have represented clients in the following transactions:

  • Land use analysis and planning for a master plan TOD, including office and residential uses near the light rail station at 120th Avenue NE in Bellevue. The project is planned to include 670 residents and more than 2,200 office and retail workers.
  • Land use analysis and consultation regarding the design and construction of a project in the Bel-Red area, one block from the station overlay for the 130th Street station. Mitigating the impacts of the exercise of eminent domain “taking” of the property, including the relocation of major tenants. Advice regarding the potential inclusion of client’s property in the City of Bellevue overlay for the light rail station.
  • Advice and counseling regarding the design and development of the East Link Hospital Station.
  • Drafting of property owner cooperation agreement for master plan redevelopment of large block near future Northgate light rail station.
  • Drafting of agreement for multiple property owners to market their assembled properties for sale to a single buyer, thereby maximizing the return for all owners.
  • Collaborating with land use planning team and international construction company looking for opportunities to develop TOD projects near various link light rail stations.
  • Participation in Urban Land Institute panels and programs reviewing TOD options and opportunities for the U-District station area and the S. 200th Street (Angle Lake) station area in the City of SeaTac.
  • Participation in Puget Sound Regional Council’s Regional Transit-Oriented Development Advisory Committee, helping to guide PSRC and other agencies and organizations on implementation, coalition building within the region, and support for state and federal legislation and funding needed to create and sustain thriving and equitable transit communities in the region.