Getting a logo was a major step for members of the Lid I-5 campaign. Then they got a movie. Now they have a website. What started as a few concept drawings has grown into a small but dedicated group of architects and community members seeking to capitalize on a massive new downtown convention center by attaching to the project plans for lid over I-5 between downtown and Capitol Hill.
The group’s new website lidi5.org, which launched last week, will be a place to track progress on the campaign and store a rapidly growing library of supporting materials. Ideas have included reconnecting streets for better transit, creating a wide open green space, and using the lid to build affordable housing.
Lid I-5 organizer Scott Bonjukian says the group is currently “working on a lot of background tasks” as the Washington State Convention Center Addition project appears to have slowed down in its complicated design review process. The $1.6 billion WSCC addition will be built on land along the north side of Pine just across I-5 from Capitol Hill where King County Metro’s soon to be defunct Convention Place Station is located today.
As part of vacating public right of ways the developers will be required to propose a series of “public benefits.” That’s where Lid I-5 hopes they will be able to insert their proposal. To help convince the commission, the group is working on compiling the results off the group’s well attended design charrette in May.
The Lid I-5 campaign, which grew out of the Pike/Pine Urban Neighborhood Council, has honed in on two near-term objectives: Have the WSCC developer Pine Street Group commit to funding a feasibility study of lidding I-5, and extending Plymouth Pillars Park over I-5 as the first corner of a new lid.
A smaller request will take place on Thursday as the City Council’s planning committee considers updates to Seattle’s Comprehensive Plan. Lid I-5 will be asking council members to restore language in the 20-year growth strategy to mention lids specifically when addressing I-5. Here is the current passage:
Policy T3.11: Look for opportunities to reestablish or improve connections across I-5 by creating new crossings or enhancing streets where I-5 crosses overhead, especially where these can also enhance opportunities for development or open space.”
Meanwhile, the convention center development team continues its complicated design review process this moth. LMN Architects will once again go before the Seattle Design Commission Thursday afternoon to continue briefings on its proposed streetscape designs that will be required as part of the project’s street vacations.
After the design merit phase is complete the commission will enter a “public benefits” phase to evaluate additional projects the developers will undertake to compensate for the proposed street vacations.
WSCC has requested the City remove a small section of Terry Ave between Howell and Olive and two alleys in the same block. Plans also call for an 8-foot deep “subterranean vacation” of Olive Way between Boren and 9th Ave. In addition to clearing the block for building above ground, the vacations would also allow for a 150,000-foot exhibition hall below street level.
The street vacations are also important for developers moving ahead on two nearby co-development sites, which could include a 28-story apartment building and 16-story office building with street-level commercial space. The street and alley vacations are significant, both in what the WSCC gains and what the city gives up, meaning the required benefits must be equally as important, according to city police.
Construction on the WSCC addition had been slated to begin in 2017 with the new Convention Center building scheduled to open in 2020, although that timeline will likely be delayed. The Design Commission is not expected to give its final approval of the public benefits until next year, after which the Seattle City Council would still need to approve the street vacations.