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Going places on light rail: Othello station

July 16th, 2009 at 5:08 am | Posted by Jason

(As the big opening day for light rail is this Saturday, we want to post a bit about the stations that aren’t on Beacon Hill. Much of the coverage of the rail line focuses on using it for commuting to and from work, and many of us will be doing that. But even more than getting to work, Link is going to be useful for visiting places throughout Downtown and Southeast Seattle without a car. With this in mind, we’ve created a few posts about some of the station areas.)

The pictogram representing the Othello station is a stag. (Courtesy of Sound Transit.)

The pictogram representing the Othello station is a stag. (Courtesy of Sound Transit.)

The Othello Station is located in a neighborhood on the verge of great change. Though the area currently has a few empty lots and what the Seattle Times recently called “a weary row of shops,” the station is already spurring new transit-oriented development in the area: a 420,000 square foot mixed-use project is breaking ground right next to the new light rail station. The New Holly redevelopment of the former Holly Park public housing project is just up the hill, and the similar Othello Station planned community is next door. The station area bears the weight of heavy expectations, perhaps more than any of the other station locations.

A Link train arrives at Othello Station. Photo by Oran Viriyincy.

A Link train arriving at Othello Station, last fall. Photo by Oran Viriyincy.

Attractions and destinations nearby include the Chief Sealth Trail, which also comes close to the Rainier Beach Station, Othello Playground, the New Holly library, and the Bumblebee Boxing Club. And while certainly nothing to write home about, this stop brings the nearest Safeway to any of the stations although it’s also quite possibly not going to be a Safeway for terribly much longer. The Rainier Valley Post reports today that the store has a $3 million makeover coming in January.

The public art around the station includes Roger Shimomura’s Rainier Valley Haiku, an exploration of Asian identity and culture in 21st Century America; Brian Goldbloom’s Stormwater Project, granite catchbasins inspired by Japanese stonework; and Augusta Asberry’s Come Dance With Me, in which eight stylized women dance along the edge of MLK in colorful dress.

Othello neighbors enjoyed the MLK Safety Street Fair last year, but this Saturdays celebration promises to be even more festive. Photo by Oran Viriyincy.

Othello neighbors enjoyed the MLK Safety Street Fair last year, but this Saturday's celebration promises to be even more festive. Photo by Oran Viriyincy.

“Downtown” Othello has a fair number of restaurants to choose from, mostly ethnic food, including the much-loved Tacos El Asadero bus on MLK between South Othello Street and Renton Avenue South. Olympic Express has lamb curry, gyros, and halal meats, along with Asian fast food such as pho and teriyaki. Rose Petals serves up southern food: greens, ox tails, cornbread, and fried chicken, “like fife and drum music for my stomach,” according to one Yelp reviewer.

The Othello Station area will be particularly festive on Link’s opening day, July 18, when a free community festival to celebrate light rail’s arrival will be held at MLK and South Othello Street. There will be food, art, commemorative souvenirs, “Undriver’s Licenses” for everyone, and entertainment including Massive Monkees, the Lion dancers, Big World Breaks, Ruby Shuz, and more.

The Come Dance With Me sculpture by Augusta Asberry dances in front of a forlorn retail building, since torn down to be replaced by a mixed-use development. Photo by Matthew Rutledge.

The "Come Dance With Me" women by Augusta Asberry danced in front of a forlorn retail building last winter, since torn down to be replaced by a mixed-use development. Photo by Matthew Rutledge.

Updated with new information about the Othello Safeway remodel.

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