City assesses Pike/Pine pedestrian zone as businesses already voicing opposition — UPDATE

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Updated-map-image-1024x6301-400x246Judging by the photos alone, closing down three blocks of Pike/Pine to vehicle traffic for a few Saturday nights in August was an interesting experiment — and, for many, a lot of fun. Now Capitol Hill EcoDistrict organizers, along with the City of Seattle, are conducting a deeper analysis of their street experiment. If the results are positive, the pedestrian zone could become a regularly occurring event. But a powerful set of real estate and business owners are already weighing in with criticism and worries about turning Pike/Pine into a permanent nighttime party zone. A preliminary report on the August pilot is set to be released.

In the first phase, the E Pike pedestrian zone between Broadway and 12th Ave focused on simple crowd management and releasing sidewalk pressure. Things got more festive on August 22nd with street yoga, a drag show, and late-night street performers, while dancing in the streets got a rain check on August 29th.

As part of its analysis, the Seattle Department of Transportation conducted some 700 surveys and is in the process of reviewing 200+ hours of video to count how many pedestrians came through the street closure and how many came through before the pilot project began. The surveys asked where people came from, why they came, and their reaction to the pilot project (drunk bias not accounted for). SDOT along with the City’s Office of Economic Development were set to release an early analysis of the pilot on Thursday.

UPDATE: Initial survey results released Thursday showed that, of the people walking around during the pilot project and during a few nights before it started, 59% “visited a shop or restaurant, got coffee, went grocery shopping, or were there for work” in addition to visiting nightlife establishments. Roughly 70% of people traveled to the area using some form of transportation other than a private car. Around one third of those surveyed lived in the Central Area, while another third lived elsewhere in Seattle.

The City is soliciting public feedback on the street closure project through an online survey here. OED has also scheduled two public meetings at 12th Avenue Arts to gather feedback:

  • Tuesday, September 22 at 6:00-7:30 PM
  • Thursday, September 24 at 9:00-10:30 AM

According to Heidi Hall, a business district advocate with OED, the city will be releasing a more detailed report in October. (You may recall in April a trio of artists conducted a similar Pike/Pine study, albeit a less formal one). OED’s report will also include business and crime data in an effort to give a more complete picture of what Pike/Pine looks like on a summer night.

Leading up to the pilot project, the idea received a mostly enthusiastic response during community meetings. However, some landowners and business owners have pushed back on continuing the project. As co-chair of the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce, Jill Cronauer worries that the pedestrian zone will send the wrong message about the importance of daytime businesses in Pike/Pine:

What retailer would move into this area? Or restaurant that does not have a very heavy bar component? Not a one. On the other hand, what bar would NOT want to be in the middle of this wild party? That means bars and night clubs can afford to pay more rent which will push out the small number of day time users we have. By closing the streets it feels like we are handing over this part of the neighborhood to nightlife.

One retail manager already in the neighborhood echoed Cronauer’s concerns. Tracy Taylor, general manager of Elliot Bay Books, said closing the streets makes it even more difficult for customers to access businesses given inadequate public transportation options.

“With the construction on 10th and 11th, this past year, parking has become more and more of an issue,” Taylor said in an email. “We left Pioneer Square partly because the perception was that parking was too difficult.”

Capitol Hill developer Liz Dunn wasn’t wild about the project either. “I’d be far more excited about Thursday night or weekend daytime closures,” Dunn told CHS.

Another growing factor could be residents in the neighborhood. With six new buildings in three blocks of 11th Ave, the residential population in the area is about to get a boost — though we’re also aware that some new buildings in the area are including language about nightlife noise in their tenant contracts.IMG_0104 (1)

EcoDistrict organizers have said they are open to scrapping the project if it isn’t working for everyone in the neighborhood. The Capitol Hill Housing-backed organization will have plenty to work on in coming months. Meanwhile, the Capitol Hill Chamber is seeking a new director after Michael Wells announced his departure on September 3rd. It remains to be seen how the pedestrian streets project will be impacted by a re-tooled chamber and a Broadway Improvement Area that could be expanding into Pike/Pine territory.

The pedestrian zone project was funded through $30,000 of a $160,000 city grant the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce received earlier this year.

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34 thoughts on “City assesses Pike/Pine pedestrian zone as businesses already voicing opposition — UPDATE

  1. Elliott Bay was a problem when they were in Pioneer Square too. Bad neighbors opposed to anything that meant less street parking, even if it was good for the overall community. Sounds like they are up to the same shit on Capitol Hill. Ironic how they moved into the densest neighborhood in the city and then want to rely on cars. They need to be in a suburban shopping mall with that attitude.

    • EllIott Bay is hardly a PROBLEM! They are one of the best businesses in the neighborhood, and one of the only anchors of the daytime community that is left to us. Parking is not the main consideration for all of us who work and live here – it is the overall direction that nightlife is taking the neighborhood as a whole. We want a diverse, liveable neighborhood – not just a place for 20-somethings to get trashed and throw up all over.

    • I totally agree. I lived in Europe for some years and the streets closed to cars were shopping streets….not party streets. Closing the streets only at night and on the weekends suggests this is only a “bar” area. We’re catering to the party mentality. How about a weekend day closure with a market instead?

    • I want to second the bar area vs. shopping area distinction. One of the great things about pedestrian areas in Europe is that they attract people from an enormous age range. Think age-diversity. In the area of Germany where I was recently living street festivals and wine stands in public squares were festive but not rowdy. No vomiting, very little whooooing.

      I admit, there are cultural reasons why it wouldn’t be the same for us if we just started selling wine by the glass on Pike and 11th. But moves to make the area more pedestrian friendly shouldn’t be merely concessions to the weekend party crowd.

      I like Liz Dunn’s idea of making these streets pedestrian during the day or “Thursday night” — i.e. making the area pedestrian-friendly but not conceding that the weekend belongs to the Whooooo! people.

    • It is simply easier to corral all the retards in this area and let them have at it. If not, I suggest we designate an area for the construction workers to leave their neon vests as they leave the hill that the night crowd can later take and don as they enter the hill. This way they will be highly visible to drivers and easily identified as retards.

    • Yes, I’m not opposed to street closures in general, but why not try it in a way that would actually benefit Capitol Hill-ites?

      The majority of us who live in the neighborhood and use it seven days a week, not just Friday & Saturday nights after 10 pm. Also, daytime/evening closures would benefit people of *all* ages, not just the 21-25 crowd. The current closures just don’t do anything for most of the neighborhood’s residents.

    • Yes! Do something for the folks who live here, not to make the neighborhood a better playpen for the stupid, immature, entitled drunks that some of the bars make their money from. I vote for closure all the time except Friday and Saturday night. Better chance for some of these idiots to get run over.

    • I like the idea of closing the street, but yeah, the photos make it look like a big woo-fest. I mean, how many pictures of idiots lying down in the crosswalk can one take? Definitely support the street closures on a weeknight rather than Saturdays.

      OTOH, I’m glad to see that new buildings going up in an established nightlife zone are including some sort of acknowledgment of the noise in their leases. Anyone who moves to Pike/11th deserves all the noise they get.

    • Oh, right, SHAME on Elliott Bay for protecting their business and making sure it thrives over the long run. (sarcasm).

      It’s unrealistic to think that all Pike-Pine customers should arrive via transit. Some will use their cars and they need to have somewhere to park.

  2. HEY! Come to Capitol Hill, get drunk, lay down in a crosswalk with a cigarette, and have your friend take your picture! Then go home and brush your teeth with a pistol.

  3. I don’t think the pilot was effective, because it didn’t create safe pedestrian zones. 10th and 11th were open, and because of the Pike closure, were clogged with more drivers than they otherwise would have been, especially with taxi drivers (who are generally more aggressive than normal drivers). Everyone wanting to use Pike to transverse between 12th and Broadway had a pleasant walk in the middle of the blocks, but when crossing the side streets still had to return to crosswalks to prevent getting hit by a car.

    This can’t be how other cities do pedestrian-only nightlife closures, right?

  4. I don’t understand why there was so much resistance to closing 11th ave adequately and completely. Of all the affected streets, 11th has the most bars with very, very long lines waiting on sidewalks that are all half wide because of outdoor seating, the whole concept of “relieving sidewalk congestion” was missed. People spilled out in between cars while taxis and people cruising clogged 11th ave worse than it’s ever been.
    Other than that, this program could use some work and I agree with making it more retail friendly. Even if it seemed to favor bars I can tell you that said bars didn’t get any traffic until almost midnight and then it was overcrowded.

  5. I agree with having the zone closed off during other times. Doing it weekend nights is kind of like giving the shitty neighborhood tourists license to act out. On the other hand, doing it during the DAY on weekends could have street sales, lots of outdoor seating for cafes and restaurants, and extra space to meander in while you eat ice cream or whatever.

    The place is already a zoo on weekend nights. This is a good idea in the wrong place.

  6. “We left Pioneer Square partly because the perception was that parking was too difficult.”

    i. Wait, what? So you moved from Pioneer Square, where parking was too difficult, to the heart of the densest part of Seattle… …where parking has been difficult for years. Nice planning! Maybe you should go back once the waterfront is fixed and the viaduct comes down. I’m sure it’ll be a quiet area then.

    ii. The store is within a few blocks of around eight bus lines, the new streetcar stop, a Pronto bike station, and in a few months, the light rail stop. Don’t give me that “public transportation is difficult” excuse. Your clientele can read books, apparently. I would hope they can read schedules.

    iii. Who on earth is rushing to a bookstore and moaning about not finding immediate parking… …at 11:00 pm on a Saturday night? I mean, you are surrounded by Comet, Havana, and Century Ballroom. Did you not know your neighbors had been there for a while?

  7. Oh, and one more thing… “…we’re also aware that some new buildings in the area are including language about nightlife noise in their tenant contracts.” I’m curious to know what this language states? I had been wondering about this for Linda’s back patio and the giant walls of apartments now facing it.

    • The Rheinhaus over on 12th in First Hill closes its biergarten at 10 pm. Wonder if Linda’s will have to do the same thing once the apartments have tenants?

    • I’m of the position that whoever was there first gets bods – it makes sense that Rheinhaus has to shut down their patio in the primarily residential neighborhood, but if you’re going to build apartments smack in the middle of nightlife, people who live there should expect a lot of noise. I mean, isn’t the proximity to our celebrated “vibrant nightlife” supposed to be a draw?

      OR – put the onus on the developer to use higher grade soundproofing when building in established nightlife zones.

    • Agreed. Like the Packard building has to deal with the Cuff’s patio noise. You move into a place, do your research and see what you’re getting yourself into.

  8. Who are the asshats coming up with these ideas about ‘what to do with Capitol Hill’ – nightlife, housing, development, etc.. My sense is that in 10 years Seattle will be used as a textbook example of how to fuck up a city.

    • Never underestimate the sense of entitled privilege that comes with paying $600K for a cheaply-constructed condo in the middle of one of the City’s most active nightlife districts. If people who pay a half-mil for a cheaply-constructed McMansion in East King County have the temerity to complain about the smell coming from the 50 year old dairy farm down the road, don’t think something similar can’t happen here.

    • That really is the way gentrification goes. People want to move into the party area of town. But once they get there they complain about all the issues you have when you live in the party area of town. Then they have the venues closed down, and they have to find a new place to go to. Rinse. Repeat.

    • Or they just like the location, close to downtown, I5, served by all subway lines, half the tram lines and 10 other bus routes.

      CH is not only nightlife

    • Uh yeah. I live in capitol hill because I like the location and how close it is to everything. that being said, I know not to live in the fucking epicenter of noise and craziness that is pike/pine. are you serious?

    • The new developments on Pike/Pine are rentals. There are no new for sale units going up on Capitol Hill at this time so not sure where you’re getting your 600k data from.

    • Yes, there are smatterings of existing home sales on Pike/Pine but people like to come here and assume the new construction on Pike/Pine are condos selling for 600k when they are all rentals. There is a difference between renting and buying.

    • Only one of these is actually in the Pike/Pine corridor, and they’re all somewhat older units. I haven’t seen much condo construction in the “party area” in recent years.

  9. Why does it not surprise me that Seattle is catering to the drunks? “relieving sidewalk congestion” great, put a bunch of tables on the sidewalk in front of every restaurant and bar and then complain about sidewalk congestion! How about finding out who is over serving and put a stop to it, it is illegal you know! Seattle caters to all the partiers who come here to get drunk, beat people up, throw up and pee in every doorway. How about Seattle coughing up some cash to buy out the businesses that they are forcing out of business?? How about DOING SOMETHING, ANYTHING to help the local small daytime business? Oh, wait, $30,000. out of the CHCC $160,000. for drunks, what do we get? You know, the people who live here, work here, have small businesses on the HIll? WHAT ABOUT US? OH and you folks who would rather have another bar than a book store….I hope you drown in your cocktail!