A heads-up to any wealthy fans of the idea to build a lid over I-5 near Capitol Hill: Local developer Mike Malone will now match your single $10,000 donation to the Lid I-5 campaign.
A tall order, yes, but serious proponents of the plan say there is much more organizing and designing to be done to keep the momentum going. So far the group has raised $22,000 to hold a public feedback session and to hire a strategy consultant.
Over the past several months, members of Lid I-5 have been working to convince policy makers and the public that now is the time to plan for such a project. The reason is that developers for the $1.4 billion Washington State Convention Center Addition, planned for the base of Capitol Hill, could kickstart a nearby lid project as part of a required community benefits process.
Ideas for the lid range from an open park space, to connecting through-streets, to building affordable housing over the interstate. In addition to Malone’s support, Capitol Hill developer Liz Dunn recently joined the campaign that was first spearheaded by neighborhood architect John Feit.
Organizers of the campaign are now working to compile and publish results from their public feedback session in May, where some 100 people gathered to brainstorm ideas for an I-5 lid. The group plans to present its report during the WSCC developer’s September Design Commission meeting.
As part of the WSCC addition, developers from Pine Street Group requested permission to remove portions of three alleys and two streets in the project area — Metro’s soon to be defunct Convention Place Station. In exchange for taking over the streets and alleys, City policy requires the project include improvements to the surrounding area. Typically, the city’s Design Commission looks for long-term community benefits beyond the scope of the project itself, like enhanced sidewalks, street furniture, and public open spaces.
The Lid I-5 campaign is hoping to convince the developers and the Design Commission that some of that funding should support a feasibility study for an I-5 lid. Lid I-5 is also exploring a more tangible, short-term idea of having developers extend the Plymouth Pillars Park off-leash area to cover up a smaller corner of the I-5 canyon.
Scott Bonjukian, one of the Lid I-5 founders, recently discussed the idea during Capitol Hill Housing’s annual community forum.
Meanwhile, Bellevue is a step ahead of the game as it embarks on an effort to lid over part of I-405. The Grand Connection will create a series of pedestrian and bike paths across difficult to navigate areas.