Check out five proposals for painting the I-5 columns between First Hill and downtown

The First Hill Improvement Association has its work cut out for it. Some 4,000 new units of housing are scheduled to be built in the neighborhood over the next few years. In January, we told you about one project to help add some color to the neighborhood with a call for artists to create designs for the forest of columns supporting I-5 between First Hill and downtown. Now you can vote on which design the FHIA should bring to life under I-5:

The First Hill Improvement Association is excited to be able to make changes to the columns underneath Interstate 5 between Cherry and James Streets. We’re grateful to have the help from Urban Artworks to install and paint the selected art design. Before our partners at Urban Artworks are able to paint the selected art design, we need your input! Please review each proposal from 5 local artists and vote on the design you’d like to see underneath the Interstate. The proposals are provided below, as well as a link to vote. Remember, you can only vote once! Get to it!

Check out the designs and vote here by March 8th!

Participating artists are Angelina Villalobos, Baso Fibonacci, Forrest Perrine, Nathan Watkins, and the team of Rose Alyea and Gabriel Stromberg.

 

Police say no signs of foul play after body found in Colonnade Park

Police say there were no signs of foul play after a body was found in the Colonnade Park beneath I-5 on the slope between Capitol Hill and Eastlake Wednesday morning.

According to the Seattle Police Department, a death investigation was conducted after the body was found next to the park’s off-leash dog area but there was no immediate evidence of a crime.

The King County Medical Examiner’s office will investigate the cause of death and identification of the person found.

The area is well known for campers and drug use and police are often called to the park.

Last week, Seattle’s new homeless Navigation Team begins a clean-up effort with a sweep of I-5 camps below Capitol Hill and around the area of the park.

Mayor Ed Murray announced during his State of the City speech earlier this week a proposal for a new $55 million levy to help the city pay for its homelessness services. The city’s emergency operations center has also been opened to help direct resources needed to remove camps and assist homeless people with finding shelter.

King County officials and task force members, meanwhile, are working with the community to identify potential locations — one in Seattle, and one outside the city — for new safe consumption sites to stem the tide of overdoses that would give drug users a place to use that is supervised and can provide resources like clean needles.

Seattle homeless Navigation Team begins clean-up with sweep of I-5 camps below Capitol Hill

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

There have been clean-ups of the area beneath Interstate 5 between Capitol Hill and Eastlake before. But officials hope this week’s sweeps can be part of a longer term change of what an East Precinct officer once described as a “no man’s land populated by the homeless, mental cases.”

In the first official deployment of the city’s new Navigation Team including outreach workers and police, the areas along and under I-5 popular with campers in the city’s core are being cleared out.

Here is what KOMO saw during the start of the clean-up in a half-mile stretch near the Colonnade Park between lower Capitol Hill and Eastlake:

Police and safety vest clad workers started pulling apart a bunker underneath I-5 early Tuesday. Mixed in with the bottles filled with urine were piles of blankets, rats and a smattering of personal belongings. Continue reading

Capitol Hill real estate moguls step in with $20k push for group backing Lid I-5 study, $10M+ Pine-Boren lid

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. Continue reading

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

Remove I-5

Tuesday night, the Lid I-5 volunteer group (lidi5.org) achieved an important milestone with an invitation to present in front of the Washington State Convention Center board of directors to “share their work on community engagement, their motivations and goals, and how the Convention Center can contribute to making the vision a reality.” CHS reported in September on the group’s progress as it pursues the inclusion of funding for a lid study in the public benefits the planned expansion of the convention center must deliver.

But when it comes to addressing the rift created by having a major freeway bisecting the city and keeping Capitol Hill neighbors from more freely mixing with their downtown brothers and sisters, maybe simply lidding I-5 isn’t enough. Maybe the massive freeway canyon should be filled and the city repaired:

For several hours a days, the freeway and extensive network of interchanges are gridlocked into a major obstacle rather than an asset. And to make the loss all the worse, the land adjacent to Downtown, South Lake Union, and Eastlake is extremely valuable. If you haven’t noticed, land in those neighborhood is worth a crazy amount of money. The Seattle Times got $62.5 million for two full blocks it sold to Onni Group in 2013. Removing I-5 between I-90 and SR-520 would free up more than 50 blocks by my rough calculation, which could mean more than a billion dollars worth of land. Stricken with budget shortages, Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) might be forced to sell off Downtown Seattle land to finance its tireless efforts in suburbia.

What could Capitol Hill and our Central Seattle neighborhoods gain in the cauterization?

Eastlake and South Lake Union flow smoothy into Capitol Hill without I-5 in the way. First Hill suddenly becomes integrated with Downtown and Pioneer Square, providing much easier and more pleasant pedestrian access. The hole blasted in the International District disappears. Intersections that used to cause big problems for bus reliability like Denny Way and I-5 would move more steadily rather than getting backed up from on-ramp traffic. And in I-5’s absence, Sound Transit’s growing light rail network can pick up the slack to carry commuters Downtown.

Check out the whole thing here: What’s Better Than A Lid? Remove I-5 Entirely From Central Seattle.

Celebrating 40 years of Seattle’s first I-5 lid: Happy birthday, Freeway Park

Sunnier days in the '70s in Freeway Park (Image: City of Seattle)

Sunnier days in the ’70s in Freeway Park (Image: City of Seattle)

The group determined to reclaim and revive the public asset is celebrating Jim Ellis Freeway Park’s 40-year history of bridging the gap and the interstate between Capitol Hill, First Hill, and downtown Seattle.

The park was founded on July 4, 1976, after years of Seattle civic leader Jim Ellis pushing for a park over I-5 to reclaim some of the space taken up by the interstate for community use. This weekend, the Freeway Park Association will celebrate the 40-year anniversary of the park’s opening and the group’s efforts to reclaim the space from decades of neglect.

“Freeway Park was the first park to lid over a freeway to reconnect communities that had been cut by that highway,” said Freeway Park Association’s Riisa Conklin. Conklin said the green-covered 5.2-acre park is essentially a “fertilizer box” situated over the highway.

The park is celebrating its 40th on Sunday, July 3 from 11:30 AM to 2 PM. The festivities will include a bluegrass band, free kettle corn, face painting, and a community kite painting project. All parts of the celebration are free and open to the public. A blues and jazz concert follows starting at 2 PM. Continue reading

Capitol Hill developer will match your $10K donation to the Lid I-5 campaign

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. Continue reading

Rooftop restaurant and ‘marketplace’ planned for 7-story Melrose/Pine development

unnamedIn a city that loves a good view, a seven-story high rooftop restaurant on the precipice of Capitol Hill overlooking downtown sounds like a no brainer. Connected to a ground floor “marketplace,” developers behind a planned project at Pine and Melrose are hoping to make a staggering addition to a burgeoning part of the neighborhood.

Plans from SolTerra developers call for a tiered mixed-used building to rise up where a parking lot now stands, and include 70 residential units, a top floor restaurant, and ground floor retail. A facade made of sloping terraces at Esker — a term for a ridge — are envisioned to give residents outdoor spaces with commanding views over downtown while dampening the roar of I-5 below.

“We want to take advantage of the views and Seattle doesn’t have a ton of rooftop hangout spots,” said SolTerra president Brian Heather. “Rather than just put this monolith there, we wanted something that would gracefully greet you as you come up the hill.”

For years, a parking lot at Pine and Melrose has served as the rather drab gateway to Capitol Hill from downtown. Continue reading

A look at where new I-5 lid would fit in between Capitol Hill and downtown

There are plenty of nicknames for the concrete canyon of I-5 as it bisects downtown and First Hill, particularly at Pike and Pine, where the center of downtown leads up to the Paramount Theatre and then drops off.  Pedestrians continuing up to Capitol Hill have narrow sidewalks on the freeway overpasses, with traffic on one side and a deep abyss of roaring I-5 traffic on the other.

Community Design CharetteMay 7th, 8 AM to 1 PM at 12th Ave Arts

Community Design Charette
May 7th, 8 AM to 1 PM at 12th Ave Arts

Even in the early 1960s, some far-sighted Seattleites called to “Block the Ditch” planned for I-5, but the freeway bulldozed through anyway. Now, with the Washington State Convention Center pushing ahead with plans to expand capacity by building on an additional downtown site, there’s hope that “vacating” some streets at the edge of I-5 to accommodate WSCC’s plans could be traded for opportunities to lid I-5. Some grand conceptualizations for lidding I-5 and replacing our concrete canyon with pedestrian-friendly development and green spaces have been covered by CHS in recent months. The Pike/Pine Urban Neighborhood Council has set May 7th, from 8 AM to 1 PM at 12th Ave Arts for a community design charette to set a vision for the effort.

One of the crew with a vision for fixing Seattle’s “urban scar” is Scott Bonjukian, education and programming director for The Urbanist, the nonprofit that partnered with the Pike/Pine Urban Neighborhood Council to host a Sunday morning walking tour on  lidding I-5.

The tour starts at Freeway Park, built as an  I-5 lid in 1976. We gather at the plaza at 6th and Seneca, one of the few areas of the park that is open to and fully visible from the street. Its lack of “way signs and sightlines,” says Bonjukian, is a reason the park is underused, even in the daytime. He says most people are unaware that there are a total of 10 entry/exit points to this park—they’re concealed around concrete corners and down dark passages. Continue reading