RECLAIMING THE LAND: EVALUATING THE POTENTIAL OF UNDERUTILIZED SPACES IN URBAN REGENERATION
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Development patterns in cities across the world in the 20th century have shown a propensity towards preparing cities more efficiently for automobiles. This has led to the enormous sprawl-like growth in urban areas, particularly in metropolitan areas in the United States, resulting in pockets of unused land in the urban fabric that have no overt function or purpose. These spaces are characterized by neglect and transition, resistant to stability and reincorporation, eludes classification and easily identifiable as marginal spaces. As such, transit-oriented developments (TODs) are becoming increasingly popular in the 21st century to counter the negative effects of sprawl and the subsequent creation of these residual and underutilized spaces. Understanding this issue of underutilized spaces and the apparent ability of TODs to reduce the creation of such spaces requires evaluating the success (or failure) of a transit route and its impact on the quality of life around it. This thesis highlights one such project: The Link Light Rail in Seattle, and analyzes how the development of the new transit route has affected projected urban regeneration in Rainier Valley located in south Seattle, it examines how the impact of TODs have influenced the creation of underutilized spaces. The choice of the neighborhood here is critical, as it is traditionally the poorer and more diverse section of the city who were projected to benefit most from the planned dense development around transit stops as well as faster connectivity to the downtown core. The outcomes of this thesis provide a spectrum of terms that classifies and categorizes underutilized spaces in the urban fabric and models how this framework that can be applied to a particular neighborhood. This is important because creation of these spaces are considered an indicator of healthy urban growth and dynamically evolving city like Seattle. Furthermore, development patterns are contextual and vary in different places, hence the thesis explores the future scenario of the impact of transit-oriented developments in Rainier Valley, particularly around the Mount Baker station.