Margery Cercado is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory. We are proud to collaborate with the Lab and feature student reporters. This is Cercado’s first report for CHS.
The plan for a promenade on Melrose Avenue is one step closer to reality through a completed report that illustrates how the area could potentially look and work — complete with unique transforming features — as a new neighborhood greenway on Capitol Hill’s western flank.
The Melrose Promenade’s Visioning Project Report — you can read the full 88-page report, below — brings the ideas of the proposed public space to life through detailed illustrations, maps, graphs and charts and is the product of an ongoing community process to shape priorities for the project.
Capitol Hill resident and Melrose Promenade volunteer Maggie Santolla is excited for others to see the completed report as it “really gives [a] concrete vision to what this project can be, [since it may be] hard for people to grasp when you just talk about it.
“Being able to show some concepts… and just to see it all realized in a tangible format is really cool [too],” Santolla said.
The promenade concept is comprised of three major zones: the Active Urban zone, which would run from East Pike Street to East Denny Way; the Overlook zone, which would be between East Denny Way and East Roy Street; and the Park zone, from East Roy Street to East Belmont Avenue. All three zones would be pedestrian and bicyclist friendly.
According to the report, the linear design of the promenade — true to its French roots as a public place for walking — could provide gathering spaces for events such as farmers markets, music and arts festivals, street fairs and picnics.
Also envisioned in the report are unique seating, table and bench solutions that would easily transition between one event to another, such as a picnic table that can “rotate into Melrose Avenue similar to a gate and activate the vehicular realm, allow freer flow of pedestrians across the street and send the subtle message that the street has been closed for an event,” as described under the Active Urban Vision section of the report.
Funding for the report was made possible through a $20,000 Neighborhood Matching Fund grant awarded by the city’s Department of Neighborhoods.
The report was completed this past summer by architecture and design firm consultants from the Berger Partnership, Schemata Workshop and Weinstein | AU. In addition to the consultants, community members played a significant role in the process.
“We conducted a series of three public meetings where we invited members of the community to come out and talk about their ideas, their dreams, their vision for what Melrose Avenue could become as the Melrose Promenade,” said Mike Kent, an urban planner and the Capitol Hill resident behind the project’s conception.
Volunteer Mike Archambault said the vision report was a culmination of work done by the community and really stressed the movement as being by the people, for the people. “These sort of projects are grassroots,” he said. “And there’s really no way for them to happen except for people like [Kent] and other community members who care enough to dedicate time to make something happen where no one else would.”
The community’s contributions to the project are well documented in the report with images from various meetings and several pie charts with outcomes from online surveys.
Of course, the work is far from over. What’s next for the project is to “start small with some easy wins [with] park improvements,” Santolla said. “[And also] seeking funding and support from various government agencies.”
Archambault echoed his fellow volunteer, saying the group has “a long road ahead in terms of getting funding” but “what’s cool about the report is that little pieces can be done at a time.”
Even with so much still left to do in order to complete the vision of the Melrose Promenade, the report has helped give new energy to make the concept become reality.
“I think anytime you have some green space in a growing city it’s a jewel and you should treat it as such,” Santolla said.
The full visioning report is below. You can learn more at melrosepromenade.com.