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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 8, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 15
Some Capitol Hill business owners report increased sales after light rail station opens on Broadway
Section One
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Some Capitol Hill business owners report increased sales after light rail station opens on Broadway

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

It's been less than 30 days since the Capitol Hill light rail station opened on the corner of E. John and Broadway and already some businesses on Capitol Hill are reporting a 15 to 20 percent increase in customers.

Last month, Sound Transit began service on the nearly 3.2 mile U Link subway, which whisks people from downtown Seattle to Husky Stadium in eight minutes. That same trip can take up to 50 minutes by car on a good day. A Kirkland traffic study company Inrix released its annual report recently and found that the average Seattle commuter wastes 66 hours a year behind the wheel stuck in traffic, up from 63 hours in 2014.

Not surprisingly, the businesses reporting an increase in sales - in particular, new customers - have a Broadway storefront.

Jennafuh Singer runs The New York Xchange, a clothing store on Broadway. She told KUOW that her niche store, described as, "Kind of like punk meets goth meets modern overall fashion,' seems to be drawing people from all over the city now that light rail is open.

Singer says The New York Xchange will move in with Panache to be even closer to the station a few doors down. She told KUOW that light rail gave them an excuse to do a big remodel. Singer, who has lived in Seattle for a decade, said, "It's been interesting to me as a New Yorker to get to see these changes and how the city has changed. Just a little bit more of that flow and influx of people from the light rail being open."

Singer isn't the only one saying business is improving. Dick's Drive-In and Charlie's Bar and Grill both report better numbers.

A manager at Dick's Drive-In reported to KUOW a 20 percent increase in business.

New customers are being reported at Charlie's Bar and Grill, which is located very close to the station. Charlie's manager, Alexander, said, "People that are coming in to the airport on their way out want to eat something, both directions. They're coming in with luggage. So I know that it's helped us.'

Kane told KUOW that his customers used to be young people. But now families are coming in with strollers. He's also seen more students and people doing pub crawls using light rail. Collectively, he estimates these customers have expanded his busy hours and increased sales by 15 percent.

Still, some businesses say it is too early to tell. What the shops and restaurants on and around the Seattle neighborhood's main thoroughfare are waiting to see is if the recent uptick in business will halt when the novelty of the new 4-minute ride from either downtown or the University District wears off.

Sound Transit's board presented a draft proposal late last month for Sound Transit 3, a 25-year plan for mass transit in the region, including plans to connect light rail to Everett, DuPont, Issaquah, West Seattle and Ballard at a cost of $50 billion.

If completed, the plan would leave the region with 108 miles of light rail, along with significant expansion of bus rapid transit and other bus service, as well as the addition of Sounder rail service from Lakewood to DuPont.

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