By Meghan Hall
On Friday, January 3rd, Mayor Jenny Durkan announced that she will transmit legislation to round out the funding needed to create a new “Waterfront for All” in Seattle that will include 20 acre of public spaces and an elevated pathway connecting Pike Place Market to the downtown waterfront. The project, which would cost roughly $711 million, comes in light of the permanent closure and demolition of the Alaskan Way Viaduct—also known as State Route 99—which will close at the end of this week. The City hopes that the new waterfront will support safer travel for pedestrians, bicyclists and vehicles while also providing green space for the community.
“As we build a city of the future, we are reconnecting Seattle with our heartbeat—the Puget Sound—and creating a new Waterfront for All for the next generation. When the viaduct comes down and we reconnect our downtown to our waterfront, there will be a collective gasp of awe,” said Mayor Durkan in a press release Friday. “This legislation will help ensure the next generation of Seattleites have the chance to make new memories on our waterfront and have access to great new public spaces.”
Plans for the Waterfront would rebuild infrastructure along the State Route 99 Corridor, spanning from the waterfront from Pioneer Square to Belltown. A park promenade and piers, and an overlook to connect the waterfront to Pike Place Market, one of Seattle’s highest visited spots are part of the plans. The multi-phased project would also replace the current Elliott Bay Seawall and the Seattle Multimodal Terminal at Colman Dock, one of Seattle’s largest ferry terminals. More specific destination projects could include transforming Pier 48 into a “Festival Pier,” suitable for concerts and large gatherings in the Pioneer Square neighborhood along S. Main St., and a retail building fronting the plaza along Colman Dock to activate its western edge.
The City of Seattle will invest $248 million, which will utilize funding from the Park Improvement District. Under the legislation, residential and commercial property owners who will benefit from the improvements will contribute $160 million as part of a Local Improvement District.
The City says the typical downtown condominium owner would pay around $8 per month, or $96 per year over 20 years, totaling $1,900 in the long run. Commercial property owners would pay $25 per month, or $300 per year, over the same term. Senior, disabled, or low-income individuals, as well as those experiencing economic hardship may receive a deferral. Philanthropies and donations will commit an additional $110 million, while the state of Washington has contributed another $193 million for the new Alaskan Way in an effort to maintain freight and Port connection along the waterfront.
The Alaskan Way and Pedestrian Promenade, which will be widened, will take up the majority of the funding, costing around $367 million, according to the City’s 2019 budget. Another $100 million had been set aside for pier rehabilitation, and $174 million has been allotted for the overlook walk and improving East/West connections. Rounding out the budget are updates to the Pike Place Market Front and the Seattle Aquarium Expansion, at $34 million each, and administrative costs of around $8 million.
The City embarked on the public engagement process for the project back in 2011 and had received more than 7,000 public comments on the project. In July of 2012, the City released a Concept Design, Framework Plan and Strategic Plan for the waterfront. If the proposed legislation is passed by the City Council, the redevelopment of the main corridor will begin this year, in 2019. The City is aiming to have all projects associated with the Waterfront for All completed by 2024.