Community Package Coalition gains ground in push for I-5 lid study, Convention Center public benefits

A coalition of neighborhood groups and advocacy organizations CHS first told you about in February as the new team pushed for a stronger public benefits package in the planned $1.6 billion Washington State Convention Center addition project is growing. The Capitol Hill Community Council is the latest organization to throw its weight behind the Community Package Coalition.

The alliance including the First Hill Improvement Association and the Lid I-5 group is calling for a $79 million benefits package in return for the WSCC’s plans to take over three alleys, and land under Olive Way and Terry Ave for its expansion and development project:

Rally and march, business closures, benefits part of Day Without a Woman, International Women’s Day in Seattle

Thousands marched in January’s Womxn’s March in Seattle. Rallies, protests, and marches have continued as part of the ongoing opposition to the actions and policies of the Trump administration.

District 3 rep Kshama Sawant is calling on her constituents to “fight Trump’s misogyny and bigotry” at a Wednesday night rally in Westlake as part of International Women’s Day:

Join me, Shaun King from the Injustice Boycott movement and the New York Daily News, Nicole Grant of the Martin Luther King Labor Council, Nikkita Oliver from Black Lives Matter and the No Youth Jail movement, Morgan Beach and Ruchika Tulshyan from the Seattle Women’s Commission, Terri Lindeke of National Organization of Women Seattle, Tiffany Hankins from NARAL, and more!

Meanwhile, expect to see a few local businesses including 23rd and Union’s Squirrel Chops closed Wednesday as some take part in the Day Without a Woman movement while others like 12th Ave’s Rachel’s Ginger Beer host benefits to raise funds for causes like Jubilee Women’s Center. Continue reading

Metro has $161 million deal to sell downtown bus center for convention center expansion

(Image: King County)

(Image: King County)

Screen-Shot-2015-03-02-at-10.49.16-AM-400x337King County has agreed on a price for the Washington State Convention Center to acquire the Convention Place Station bus facility, part of the $1.6 billion project to expand the center and a harbinger of the end of Metro’s use of the downtown transit tunnel.

The WSCC will pay $161 million for the land over the next 30 or so years — $275 million with interest.

“This proposed sale will help support Metro’s service and reliability improvements for the next three decades,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said in the announcement of the agreement. “Meanwhile, the expansion of the Convention Center will generate thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic growth for the region. This agreement is good for taxpayers, transit riders, and workers.” Continue reading

Still time to add to your thoughts on One Center City — including protected bike lanes on Pike/Pine

The One Center City initiative is designed to help guide the City of Seattle, King County, and Sound Transit to better align the streets and transit of Seattle’s core in a coordinated plan led by the Downtown Seattle Association for pedestrians, bikers, transit riders, and drivers. The big milestone for the effort is the fall of 2018 when Metro’s bus traffic will be pushed out the downtown transit tunnel as part of the Convention Center’s planned expansion and freeing of the route for full dedication to light rail use.

But there are lots of other opportunities for progress on the streets of downtown and their connective routes to neighboring areas — including Capitol Hill.

You have until the end of day Friday to weigh in on some of the early issues and opportunities already identified in the process at onecentercity.participate.online.

You will learn a few things in the process — But you can also skip directly to the “comments” tab and add your thoughts.

Bike riders might be particularly interested in the concepts being floated for protected bike lanes on Pike and Pine: Continue reading

Madison BRT, now RapidRide G, rounding out pedestrian, bike elements with aim for 2019 start of service

Seattle is ready to put the final design touches on a powerful new east-west public transit corridor set to be carved out of Madison from downtown through First Hill and Capitol Hill to MLK. The Madison Bus Rapid Transit project will be known as the RapidRide G Line when it begins serving riders along its 11-stop route in late 2019. In addition to more reliable bus service, transportation planners say the line will bring needed improvements to sidewalks and crossings along the route — and add a new protected bike lane, likely on E Union.

In March, you will have an opportunity to add your feedback to help planners shape final elements of the project including those pedestrian and bike improvements along the corridor:

We’re holding in-person and online open houses this March to share the updated project design.

IN PERSON

Thursday, March 9
11 AM – 1 PM
Town Hall, Downstairs
1119 8th Ave

Wednesday, March 15
5:30 – 7:30 PM
First African Methodist Episcopal Church
1522 14th Ave

ONLINE
MARCH 8-22
Give feedback online!
MadisonStreetBRT.participate.online
(Link will go live March 8)

Stretching from 1st Ave to Madison Valley, the future Madison BRT will travel in a dedicated center lane with island stops from 9th Ave to 14th Ave while the rest of the route will run curbside with right-turning traffic or in mixed traffic.

Under the “locally preferred alternative” design adopted by City Council last year, transit travel time from 23rd to 1st Ave is expected to improve by 40% from 16 minutes to 10 minutes while single occupancy vehicle travel time will increase by 4 minutes. Sorry, cars.

Once the project opens in 2019, people riding the bus are expected to travel the corridor 5.2 and 7.3 minutes faster (eastbound and westbound, respectively) than they would if the project were not built. People driving are expected to travel the corridor 5.6 and 2.9 minutes slower (eastbound and westbound, respectively).

The project’s traffic analysis will be available later this year but the draft of the study found “some traffic will divert to other streets,” while identifying “several key intersections SDOT could improve through various treatments.”

Some of the biggest questions about the coming RapidRide G Line are already off the table: Continue reading

Coalition says Convention Center expansion’s proposed public benefits aren’t enough

At a Thursday Seattle Design Commission meeting, Washington State Convention Center expansion project leaders presented the public benefits package proposed to justify the vacation of three alleys for the $1.6 billion downtown project. An exact value of the vacations hasn’t been determined, but a coalition of community groups has been leading the push to make sure the package benefits the surrounding neighborhoods.

Representatives with the Community Package Coalition, made up of nine community groups, argue that WSCC’s proposed benefits aren’t enough.

“The size of the public benefits package is nowhere near fair,” said Alex Hudson, executive director of the First Hill Improvement Association said Thursday.

The investments are “critical” to make sure the neighborhoods around the Convention Center are “improved and not degraded,” Hudson said.

“We have people that are asking that we do certain things for the neighborhoods, but we don’t have opposition to the project,” said Matt Griffin of the Pine Street Group, the development firm managing the expansion project for the WSCC.

WSCC’s proposed benefits focus on three areas — affordable housing, the city and Downtown Seattle Association’s Pike Pine Renaissance project, and community projects including a Lid I-5 Study, Freeway Park improvements and downtown bicycle improvements. For some of the projects, WSCC proposes proving funding for them, not heading the design and implementation of them. It’s a lengthy, detailed roster of potential neighborhood improvements from downtown up to Capitol Hill. We’ve embedded the full package proposal, below. Continue reading

Seattle council member throws support behind I-5 lid

screen-shot-2015-12-15-at-4-44-19-pm-1The Lid I-5 group started 2017 with a financial boost in its push for a $1 million study of bridging the gap over the interstate between Capitol Hill and downtown. It also is getting some valuable political support. Seattle City Council member Sally Baghsaw’s District 7 covers downtown. In January, she added her voice off support in a call for studying the possible lid:

We can create a “public land make, not a land take” that could be available for affordable housing, more parks and green space, and private office space to help pay for it.  As other big cities have shown, this is one way we can create new real estate for public/private partnerships and make our Downtown greener and more Age-Friendly.

“I fully support Lid I-5 in District 7, and recognize this is a project that will be envisioned and completed in phases over the next decade(s),” Bagshaw writes.

The Lid I-5 group 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 meant to offset the loss of public right of way from street/alley vacations involved in the expansion.

The Lid I-5 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 that would cost around $10 million to complete.

If you think lidding I-5 sounds too far fetched, Bagshaw, in her typical colloquial style, says, not so fast, buster.

“Visionary? You bet. Pie in the sky? No way,” she writes. “It’s what we need to increase green over gray and another way to make our city truly Age Friendly.”

You can learn more at lidi5.org.

Leave Paul Allen out of it: Ask for an I-5 lid study

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

Nobody needs Paul Allen to pay for building a new lid over I-5 — not yet, at least. Nope. All we need at this point is a public benefit investment of less than 1/10th of a percent of the $1.6 billion Washington State Convention Center expansion to fund a $1 million study of lidding I-5 thus renewing the severed historical bonds between Capitol Hill, South Lake Union, Eastlake, and downtown Seattle and ushering in an era of peace and prosperity in the central city.

CHS wrote here about the quest for the lid plan to be included in the project’s public benefits package. Wednesday night, you can attend a WSCC expansion open house just down the Hill and/or let the Seattle Design Commission know your thoughts via email at SDC_Administration@seattle.gov.

WSCC Public Benefits Open House

A December push to make I-5 lid plan a ‘public benefit’ from $1.6B convention center expansion

The next big step in the Washington State Convention Center’s downtown expansion plan is a discussion of public benefits of the massive project. The meeting is set for December 7th, and Lid I-5, the community group looking to secure funding for a plan to better connect Capitol Hill to downtown, will be there.

“It’s important not only to our group, but also to the surrounding community,” said John Feit of Lid I-5.

As part of the now $1.6 billion expansion plan, the convention center is asking for the city to hand over three alleys, and the land under two existing streets, Olive Way and Terry Avenue. In exchange for these publicly-owned areas, the center essentially has to pay for them.

In most cases like this, the payment is not in cash, but in some form of public benefit, such as a new public space that meets the value of the public area the developer takes over and adds new resources or features for the city. The exact value of the areas has yet to be announced, but Lid I-5, among a number of other groups, is jockeying for a chance at some of the expected funding. Continue reading

Seattle responds to President-Elect Trump with rallies, protests — UPDATE: March on Capitol Hill

Broadway. Capitol Hill. Seattle. Washington. USA.

A photo posted by Anica (@anicacihla) on

broadway_epike-2UPDATE 6:20 PM: Thousands of protesters splintered off a planned rally and march at Westlake Park and headed up E Pike toward Capitol Hill Wednesday night.

Police estimated the crowd at more than 700 marchers moving onto Capitol Hill. UPDATEx2: Police say the group has fully formed and is closer to 5,000 to 6,000 marchers.

The rally started at 4 PM and included speakers denouncing the election victory of Donald Trump and celebrating the call for a general strike on Inauguration Day. After a march toward the downtown Federal Building, the protest circled back toward Westlake and began to splinter.

“Not my president” chants and signs proclaiming fights against racism and homophobia were the order of the night.

The protest was peaceful and there were no reported arrests as of this update.

UPDATE 6:45 PM: It is not clear where the march is headed as the protest has reached 10th Ave E and Prospect near St. Mark’s.

The protest joins rallies and marches in cities across the country Wednesday night.

UPDATE 7:05 PM: As the march reaches Roanoke, it appears the protest is headed for the University of Washington. Police have been busy coordinating with state troopers to make sure I-5 onramps and exits are blocked off to the protesters.

Police are also busy in downtown Seattle where five people were shot and a search for the gunman seen leaving the area is on. The shootings were first reported around 6:45 PM long after the marchers had left the area.

UPDATE 7:36 PM: The remaining large group of marchers is crossing the University Bridge and leaving Eastlake. There have been reports of some scuffles with police but still no arrests and no reports of significant damage.

UPDATE 9:00 PM: The march has continued with protesters circling through the University District and the UW campus. There have been some attempts to enter I-5 but so far groups have not been successful in reaching the freeway and disrupting traffic on the interstate.

UPDATE 9:41 PM: Marchers, still numbering around 2,000 according to police, were last reported headed south on Eastlake back in the direction of downtown Seattle.

Continue reading