Market Street EV Charging Site

Aerial photo of the Market Street Substation property

What's Happening Now?

In April 2021, Seattle City Light conducted an engineering assessment for drainage options at the Market Street Substation property. A soil test determined that on-site drainage options would not work and the only viable drainage option was to install a connection to the municipal stormwater sewer on the south side of NW Market Street. Seattle City Light decided that the added cost and disruption to vehicle traffic and King County Metro trolley bus operations on NW Market Street made this project unviable. Seattle City Light may resume work if a less disruptive method of providing site drainage is found.

Project Description

Seattle City Light owns property in the Ballard neighborhood at 2826 NW Market St. The property was formerly known as the Market Street Substation. In early 2021, City Light explored the possibility of utilizing this site as a “make-ready” electric vehicle (EV) charging site with a new parking lot and electrical infrastructure. The site would be leased to two third-party electric vehicle service providers (EVSPs). The EVSPs, to be determined through a competitive process, would install their own public charging infrastructure and operate their chargers on this site. As of May 2021, this project is on hold indefinitely due to soil drainage issues.

Location

2826 NW Market St., Seattle, WA 98107

Community Benefits

  • Increased access to public EV chargers
  • Ability to meet the current and future needs of customers who are choosing to fuel their transportation needs with City Light's clean energy

Anticipated Impacts

  • An excavator will be used during construction. Some noise is expected during work hours.
  • The sidewalk on the north side of NW Market Street will be temporarily closed off near the property so crews can provide electrical service to the site.
  • The existing site is a fenced gravel lot. The new site will be fully paved and cleaned up.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the history of this property?

The property is located at 2826 NW Market St., Seattle, WA 98107. It is approximately 9,468 square feet and is currently zoned IB U/45.

In 1957, City Light purchased the site, using it for the Market Street Substation. A rectifier for the King County Metro system was installed on the site in the 1980s. The substation was one of several 4 kilovolt (kV) sites throughout City Light’s service area. This site, along with others, were phased out as larger, more reliable substations were developed. In 1999, City Light decommissioned the substation and removed the associated equipment. The property has been used intermittently for other purposes since it was decommissioned.

What is the condition of the property?

The site is a vacant and relatively flat gravel lot with ongoing property management efforts. As of 2015, the property was considered a clean site. Any chemical contaminants that were associated with the substation or City Light operations were either not detected or considered low-risk for environmental cleanup levels. During this project, City Light will ensure that the site is compliant with state environmental standards.

What is the property’s current value?

According to the King County Assessor, land values in the area range from $125 to $140 per square foot.

Will this property ever go on sale?

The property will continue to be retained for utility purposes. The Seattle City Council must declare the site as a surplus property before it can be sold.

How was this site selected for an EV charging lot?

In autumn 2020, City Light was contacted by an EV charging provider that was interested in leasing City Light property to host an EV charging station. The EV charging provider expressed strong interest in this particular site because other charging stations in the area were at capacity. City Light staff considered the project and determined that using the site for a “make-ready” EV charging station would be beneficial for the utility, our ratepayers, and the general public, and that the project would contribute to achieving Seattle’s environmental and greenhouse gas emission reduction goals.

How does City Light weigh the development of large parcels in and around urban villages as EV charging lots, as opposed to using those sites to further other city goals like affordable housing?

The site was previously utilized as a City-permitted encampment from November 2015 to March 2018. Unlike taxpayer-funded property held by the City, City Light property is held on behalf of its ratepayers. Utilizing the parcel for non-City Light purposes requires determination that the property no longer serves City Light’s current and future needs and requires City Council authorization. The site still serves a City Light purpose; in addition to this new use, the existing infrastructure supplies power to King County Metro’s electric trolley buses, a use that would not be compatible with other uses such as full site development for housing.

Did City Light consider alternative uses for this site?

Yes, however, as noted above, the site has existing infrastructure that limits alternative uses. The site is not considered surplus to City Light’s needs.

Given that the project is not going forward at this time, how does City Light plan to use this site? Will it now be surplused?

The use of site going forward is being evaluated. Because the site will continue to support existing City Light infrastructure and the King County Rectifier, the site will not be surplused at this time. Use of the Property for non-utility purposes has not been evaluated.

As of May 2021, this project is on hold indefinitely.

For more information, please contact:

Project/Construction Questions:
Jacob Orenberg
Senior Capital Projects Coordinator
jacob.orenberg@seattle.gov
(206) 233-5164

Environmental/Property Questions:
Theo Gideon
Senior Real Property Agent
theo.gideon@seattle.gov
(206) 561-4835