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City at a Crossroads: Light Rail, Development Propel Lynnwood Into the Future

Lynnwood, Washington, 17 miles north of Seattle, is not like major cities around it. With a population of 38,000, for decades it has lacked a dense, walkable urban core. But that's about to change.

So much of the city seems to be incidental sprawl and strip malls.

Yet in the past few years the city has found new purposes for its current infrastructure. Some of the region's best dining can be found tucked away in secretive strip malls. Craft distilleries and coffee shops began popping up before the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic slowed the local economy.

These new small businesses are part of a burgeoning youth culture, driven by the city’s community college.

As the city moves toward the future, there are exciting developments on the horizon: light rail and a new city center. 

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The Rise of Light Rail

A regional light rail system is coming to Lynnwood, to be completed by 2024. The light rail is part of ST2, a transit-oriented development plan designed to connect the Greater Seattle Area through a network of efficient multimodal transportation.

The new light rail development will get more people on rails and on bikes, relieving local congestion and pollution.

ST2 will make Lynnwood a commuter’s dream community. The rails will connect residents to the University of Washington, Downtown Seattle, the Eastside, and the Sea-Tac Airport. 

People will be able to access Seattle from Lynnwood in 28 minutes via light rail.

Lynnwood is uniquely positioned as a hub for travel, as it sits at the junction of two major regional throughways: Interstate 5 and the 405 corridor. The city is also equidistant between the coastal community of Everett and Seattle.

And, to be sure, people will also flock to Lynnwood via light rail — attracted to new development springing up around the light rail station.

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A New Urban Core

The light rail station will be the crown jewel of the new Lynnwood City Center. 

The city’s center is a planned and intentional effort to create a new heart of Lynnwood — a walkable, bikeable  place where retail, restaurants, offices and entertainment options overlap and inform one another. The area is slated to swell in the next couple of years with the addition of 1400 dwelling units, and 5,000 square feet of office space. A Dave and Buster's video game parlor is in the works.

“The intention is allowing the location to be a live, work, and play location... to allow the area to have a vibrancy twenty hours a day,” said Karl Almgren, Lynnwood City Center Program Manager.

The City Center is bisected by the Interurban Trail, a paved path that connects bicyclists to the nearby cities of Everett and Seattle. Light rail passengers and residents can hop on the bike path and explore the region on two wheels.

The future of Lynnwood is being written right now with cranes and bulldozers.

Ultimately, the city will be more than a connective place to pass through. It will be both a destination in its own right and a jumping off point for regional adventures.

One thing is certain in a time of economic instability: the impending light rail system will connect this crossroads city to the future.

Put a visit to this urban basecamp on your to do list. You won't be sorry.

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Explore Urban Basecamp - Click Here

Enjoy Basecamp Bites - Click Here

Header photo and light rail station artist rendition courtesy Sound Transit.

Map of Lynnwood City Center courtesy of Karl Almgren, City of Lynnwood.

Managing Editor
Richard Porter
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