In an effort to redevelop the downtown Pike and Pine Streets pedestrian corridor, the Downtown Seattle Association (DSA) is working with the city to hire a second landscape architecture firm to develop a detailed plan for transforming Seattle’s streets.
According to DSA President and CEO Jon Scholes, there have been many efforts over the years that have looked at bits and pieces of this part of downtown. However, there has not been a real comprehensive plan or design for Pike and Pine as far as design standards, lighting, materials and sidewalk improvements. “Right now there is a hodge-podge of signage and different types of materials on the sidewalks,” said Scholes. “Nothing feels intentional, and it doesn’t invite pedestrians to enjoy downtown’s outdoor space.”
It is currently a little tired and stale, and we’re happy to help to address that
In 2013, DSA received a grant from the city to develop a design vision and revitalization strategy. It was at this time that DSA hired local landscape architect Gustafson Guthrie Nichol to draft an initial design idea that addressed its concerns. “We recognize that the pedestrian corridor runs through the heart of our city where our arts and culture institutions, major transit connections, the Pike Place Market and big employers reside,” said Scholes. “It is currently a little tired and stale, and we’re happy to help to address that.”
Once the design team creates a plan to move forward, it will be presented before the city’s design commission. DSA is projecting a timeline identical to the one for the city’s waterfront project, which is scheduled to begin construction in 2019.
The current pedestrian environment and public realm of the project area lacks quality, character and cohesiveness, says Scholes. On one end of the pedestrian corridor, the city is building a waterfront park and the expansion to Pike Place Market is underway. On the other end is Capitol Hill and a significant amount of new development, which includes approximately 2,551 residential units that are either under construction, approved or proposed, according to a report from Polaris Pacific. The area will soon home the new convention center addition and has become sought after by investors and developers.
DSA believes that by improving the downtown streetscape it will promote business growth, as well as clean up areas of the city where it is needed. “Some of the undeveloped properties and conditions in the 3rd Avenue, Pike Street, 2nd Avenue and Pine Street block are certainly motivation to have a stronger design plan for downtown,” said Scholes. “Since we’ve moved our project forward, we’ve seen some of those properties change hands and now some reinvestment is going to occur in the next few years.”
Approximately $444.5 million has already been invested in the corridor by private investors. Of this amount $233.5 million was for recently completed buildings, $118 million for buildings under construction, $73 million for the Pike Place Market expansion and $20 million for planned streetscape improvements. As a result of these investments there have been 42 new retail and restaurant openings. “These private investments have been made just over the last sixteen months or so,” said Don Blakeney, Vice President of Advocacy and Economic Development for DSA.