Ballard Urban Design

Together with City partners and the Ballard Alliance, we developed a proposed Ballard Neighborhood Design Guidelines. These neighborhood guidelines supplement the Citywide Design Guidelines. They respond to community direction recorded in the Ballard Urban Design and Transportation Framework (UDTF).

The Ballard Neighborhood Design Guidelines complement the rezones and code amendments that City Council Adopted in September 2016. Over 40 people attended an open house to review these draft guidelines and to indicate their priorities that project proponents should consider.

The Ballard Neighborhood Design Guidelines will provide design guidance that reflects the recent, multi-year planning effort that resulted in the 2016 UDTF and the 2016 Ballard Land Use Code Amendments. These design guidelines will be used by the Design Review Board in reviewing proposed projects in the Ballard Hub Urban Village, and will supplement the Citywide Design Guidelines. The overarching goal of Design Guidelines, and the Design Review Program is to foster design excellence in new multifamily and commercial projects.

Project Benefits

Over the past 15 years, Ballard has seen significant changes. The area has become denser as it has attracted younger people and families with children. At the same time, the job market has changed, but job growth has not kept up with the population growth. The community has overwhelming appreciation for the ability to visit the great variety of shops and restaurants in a beautiful, walkable neighborhood. However, they are also concerned that a number of recent high-density projects being built in the area do not contribute to Ballard's character.

In response to this and Sound Transit's planning for light rail to Ballard, we worked with the Department of Transportation, neighborhood groups, and non-profits, organized as the Ballard Alliance, to develop an UDTF and a multimodal transportation plan (Move Ballard). Together these documents articulate a shared vision and strategies that will guide future development and transportation investment while ensuring Ballard's people and places thrive.

The Existing Conditions Report documents the area's existing conditions and trends. We have found that most of the changes are in the commercial and multifamily areas in the Ballard Urban Village. Additional changes can be expected when Sound Transit builds a planned light rail station. Therefore, we are focusing our planning effort on the Ballard Urban Village and areas within a ten-minute walk of Sound Transit's potential locations for a rail station. We are paying particular attention to mobility and access and to the character, form, and location of future development within the Urban Village. We will also identify opportunities to make sure people have access to economic opportunity and the amenities for a healthy life.

The End Result

The Ballard UDTF defines urban design recommendations, including streetscape design, land use regulations, and design guidelines that will guide future development while ensuring Ballard's people and places can thrive. In September 2016, the Mayor proposed, and City Council adopted the recommended amendments to development standards and zoning changes. When complete, the Ballard Neighborhood Design Guidelines will implement the urban design recommendations in the UDTF.

Ballard Neighborhood Design Guidelines

Proposed Ballard Neighborhood Design Guidelines

On December 13, 2018, we published the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) Determination of Non-Significance Draft Ordinance, Draft Ballard Neighborhood Design Guidelines and a Director's Report.

Proposed Rezones and Land Use Code Amendments

Urban Design Framework

Open Houses

Urban Design and Transportation Open House, November 18, 2015

Urban Design Open House, May 7, 2015

Urban Design Open House, November 6, 2014

Urban Design Open House, May 7, 2014

Ballard UDF Public Comments

Comprehensive Plan and Land Use Policy

Background Documents

Urban Design and Transportation (UDaT) Committee

Ballard Partnership for Smart Growth's Urban Design and Transportation (UDaT) Committee is working with us as an advisory committee for the Ballard Urban Design Framework. They provide consistent review and advice on the direction of this project and its products. You may attend the meetings as an observer. There is a comment period at the end of each meeting.

UDaT Meeting #1, April 4, 2014

UDaT Meeting #2, May 1, 2014

UDaT Meeting #3, June 5, 2014

UDaT Meeting #4, June 19, 2014

UDaT Meeting #5, July 3, 2014

UDaT Meeting #6, August 7, 2014

UDaT Meeting #7, September 4, 2014

UDaT Meeting #8, October 2, 2014

UDaT Meeting #10, January 8, 2015

UDaT Meeting #11, February 5, 2015

UDaT Meeting #12, March 5, 2015

UDaT Meeting #13, April 2, 2015

UDaT Meeting #14, September 3, 2015

UDaT Meeting #15, October 8, 2015

UDaT Meeting #16, November 5, 2015

UDaT Meeting #17, January 7, 2016

After years of being a “sleepy” neighborhood, Ballard has been changing and growing. People are moving in, attracted to both Ballard’s heritage as well as its growing, urban vitality. We are undertaking a coordinated and strategic planning effort to create positive outcomes for the changes Ballard is experiencing.

Rich in character and heritage, the Ballard Hub Urban Village is a dynamic neighborhood with nearly 10,100 residents and 5,100 jobs. It is the center of a vibrant and engaged residential, business, and manufacturing community. Originally the home and workplace of Scandinavian fishermen, mill workers, and boat builders, Ballard has been known as a blue-collar enclave with strong Nordic ties, maritime atmosphere, senior population, and historic downtown.

Over the last decade, the neighborhood’s diverse, affordable housing and walkable streets have made it a magnet for younger people including families with children. Recent changes have been significant and the future promises more. Highlights of changes in Ballard over the past ten years:

The Urban Village is younger and more densely populated.

  • The total population increased by 24 percent
  • The adult population aged 18-64 increased by 35 percent
  • The number of households with children aged 18 or younger increased by 15 percent
  • See this chart of the 10 fastest growing Urban Villages between 2000 and 2010

The greater Ballard District is younger and more diverse.

  • The population of seniors over 65 declined by 21 percent
  • The number of persons of color increased by 26 percent

Jobs did not grow as rapidly as population, and there are different jobs now.

  • Since 2004, the Urban Village lost 206 jobs putting it 750 jobs short of its 2024 employment target
  • Within greater Ballard’s industrial and commercial areas and along its working waterfront, traditional fishing, maritime, building supply, and manufacturing industries now coexist with breweries, bars, restaurants, numerous independent businesses, and larger shopping destinations

Neighborhood Plans

Previous Zoning Studies

Industrial Lands in Seattle

Citywide Projects and Studies

Real Estate Market

Transportation & Traffic

Topics of Interest

Reports on trends and other policy issues that will help inform our study.

  • The Insourcing Boom, December 2012, The Atlantic Monthly
    An exploration of the startling, sustainable, just-getting-started return of industry to the United States.
  • Population and demographics
    Explore population, housing, and job growth trends in Seattle and within the Ballard Urban Village.
  • The Third Industrial Revolution, April 21, 2012, The Economist
    As manufacturing goes digital, it will change out of all recognition, says Paul Markillie. And some of the business of making things will return to rich countries.
  • The Urban Manufacturing Alliance connects small business advocates, city governments, manufacturing associations, and urban industrial experts in cities across the U.S. to grow small manufacturers and create thousands of good jobs through innovative land use strategies, local branding, and sustainable product design.

2013: Project Scoping

Winter 2014 - Summer 2016: Urban Design and Transportation Framework

Summer 2016: Development Standard and Zoning Amendments

Fall 2017 - Fall 2018: Urban Design Guidelines

Planning and Community Development

Rico Quirindongo, Director
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 94788, Seattle, WA, 98124-7088
Phone: (206) 386-1010

The Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD) develops policies and plans for an equitable and sustainable future. We partner with neighborhoods, businesses, agencies and others to bring about positive change and coordinate investments for our Seattle communities.