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Project Profile: South Lake Union Streetcar

South Lake Union Streetcar - Seattle, Washington

photo credit: King County Metro


Seattle, Washington

Project Sponsor / Borrower

City of Seattle

Program Areas

Alternative Project DeliveryProject FinanceValue Capture

Value Capture Techniques Local Improvement Districts



The South Lake Union (SLU) Streetcar project is a 2.6-mile modern streetcar line connecting the South Lake Union area to Downtown Seattle, Washington. The project scope included three vehicles, 11 stops, and construction of a maintenance facility. The SLU Streetcar connects Downtown Seattle to important regional activity centers, including a 12-acre waterfront park, Denny Triangle, and South Lake Union, and provides direct connections to other transit services including King County Metro buses, Sound Transit regional buses and light rail, and the Seattle Monorail. The project opened to revenue service in 2007.

The SLU Streetcar was backed by the strong political and financial support of businesses and property owners, including the co-founder of Microsoft, Paul Allen. Forming the centerpiece an innovative funding package, local businesses and property owners within approximately five blocks of the streetcar line agreed to establish a special property tax levy through the formation of a Local Improvement District (LID). The LID was approved by 98 percent of district property owners and was divided into parcels based on proximity to the SLU Streetcar alignment. Property tax rates ranged from 8 percent for parcels located directly near the alignment to 1 percent for parcels located along the outer boundary of the LID.

In 2008, the Seattle City Council approved a regional streetcar network, including four additional lines in Downtown Seattle; a second streetcar line, the First Hill Streetcar, opened to revenue service in 2016. The 10-stop, 2.5 mile route connects the residential neighborhoods and business districts of Capitol Hill, First Hill, Yesler Terrace, Central Area, Chinatown-International District and Pioneer Square.

SLU Streetcar - $53.5 million

Funding Sources

SLU Streetcar

  • Section 5307 and STP Funds - $8.2 million
  • Federal Appropriations - $4.8 million


  • State Appropriations - $3 million


  • Local Improvement District - $25 million
  • Interfund Loan - $5 million
  • Surplus Property Proceeds (LTGO Bonds) - $3.5 million
  • Property Exchange Proceeds - $1.8 million
  • King County Metro Fund Exchange Proceeds - $1.6 million
  • Seattle Public Utilities - $0.7 million
Project Delivery / Contract Method

GC/CM (General Contractor/Construction Manager)

Private Partner None
Project Advisors / Consultants

Stacy and Witbeck (GC/CM)
Shiels Obletz Johnsen (GC/CM)
Parsons Brinckerhoff (Planning Consultant)



Duration / Status

Opened to revenue service in 2007

Financial Status


  • Local businesses and property owners along the proposed alignment agreed to establish a special property tax levy through the formation of a Local Improvement District (LID), funding approximately 47 percent ($25 million) of the $53.5 million project.
Related Links / Articles

Seattle Streetcar Website


Ethan Melone
Streetcar Program Manager
Tel: (206) 684-8066

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