The Lid I-5 campaign announced it has secured $20,000 in contributions thanks to two Capitol Hill real estate investors to help its push for a plan that could cover the interstate “in the city center and other neighborhoods.” The group says there is also growing momentum in City Hall behind its idea for a “short term” “proof-of-concept” lid project at Pine and Boren.
Michael Malone of Capitol Hill developer Hunters Capital promised a $10,000 donation to the group if it could raise another 10 grand to match. Lid I-5 announced Joe Nabbefeld, broker at Windermere Capitol Hill, stepped up with the contribution. The funding raised the group’s total raised to more than $30,000 in 2016.
The effort organized by Scott Bonjukian and John Feit has led the way for a push to reconnect areas separated by I-5 including Capitol Hill and downtown. In May, Lid I-5 organized a community design workshop to generate and document ideas for the lids including parks, schools, and housing. It has proposed a $1 million lidding study as part of the public benefits package the City Council must decide on that will accompany the the massive $1.6 billion expansion of the Washington State Convention Center. Other important neighborhood projects are also lined up to be part of the package.
The $1 million study would be a drop in the bucket compared to what an actual system of lids across I-5 through Seattle would eventually cost. Lid I-5 proponents say they will cross that lid when they come to it.
UPDATE: “It’s a terrific idea. If you look at the Freeway Park, or the choice of having a freeway in the middle of the city or at least a swath of a park, it’s an easy decision,” Malone tells CHS about his decision to give a small boost to the advocates. “I think it’s a phenomenal opportunity. The majority of this would link Pike and Pine downtown.” Malone said the cost of creating new Central Seattle land might also be a relative bargain. What would he like to see there? “First and foremost, public space,” Malone says.
The group is also pushing forward to try to gather support to build “a modern proof-of-concept” lid at Pine and Boren that would extend Plymouth Pillars Park. But even this “small” lid would be incredibly expensive. “The small Pine-Boren lid is one of the higher cost items community investments proposed for the WSCC’s public benefit package, but it would have one of the greatest benefits: creating new public space in densely populated Capitol Hill and building upon the momentum of the Lid I-5 effort,” Bonjukian writes. “It would also integrate well with the proposed cantilever of the WSCC’s new building over I-5 on the opposite corner of the Pine-Boren intersection.”
We’ve asked Bonjukian for the price tag on the estimate for the Pine-Boren lid and will update when we hear back. “The average cost of completed lid parks comes in at $13.2 million per acre,” Bonjukian wrote in 2015 but estimated in Seattle the price would be closer to between $20 million and $25 million per acre. At around a half acre to cover at the upper range of the estimate, the project would pencil out at more than $10 million. UPDATE: Bonjukian confirms our math saying there are a lot of unknowns but the project would cost at least $7 million.
Bonjukian says the group is looking for possible matching funding to help support the lid as the city council makes its decision on the WSCC benefits package later this year. “We want to ensure this particular idea complements, not competes, with the many other worthy street and park projects being proposed,” Bonjukian said.
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.
You can learn more at lidi5.org.