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As redevelopment continues, community celebrates opening of Yesler Terrace Park

“As this city becomes increasingly dense, we continue to need spaces like this. This is the kind of space where memories will be created by all the young people here,” Christopher Williams, interim superintendent of the Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation, said at the grand opening of the brand new Yesler Terrace Park on Saturday. “This park will be the center of the Yesler community.”

Yesler Terrace Park includes a fountain, public seating, a soccer field, basketball court, an intricate playground and an expansive view of the Seattle skyline, all of which were designed and created by several city groups and local organizations. Community members, city officials, and families gathered to celebrate this new public space.

“Nothing could say how important this day is or what it means to Seattle more than the faces of the children that are here,” Mayor Jenny Durkan said. “You look at these kids here, down on the swings, playing, and it says everything we need to know about how important community is and making space for community. If Seattle continues to grow, it’s really important for us to have public spaces.”

“Parks, green spaces, gathering spaces. So that we can continue to honor those things that make community best in this city,” Durkan said.

Players from Seattle University’s basketball team and the Seattle Sounders played with kids on the lower fields as people enjoyed live music and food in the upper courtyard area.

The park was developed in a partnership with Seattle Housing Authority and public-private donations that include Seattle Parks Foundation, RAVE Foundation (the official charitable arm of the Seattle Sounders), Wyncote Foundation Northwest, Pendleton and Elisabeth Carey Miller Charitable Foundation, The Community Parks Fund, Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office, and the Office of Arts and Culture.

The 2008 Parks and Green Spaces Levy provides $3 million toward the project — the total budget was $4.33 million. Landscape architecture firm Site Workshop designed the project, and Seattle Parks and Recreation awarded the construction contract to Wyser Construction.

The Yesler Terrace area south of First Hill and Capitol Hill is in the midst of a major redevelopment including a huge, mixed-use project from Vulcan set to rise seven stories and make space for 190 or so apartment units and around 2,500 square feet of retail, along with a giant plaza.

The projects are set to replace a set of 11 two-story apartment buildings that provide low-income housing as part of Seattle Housing Authority’s original, 1940s-built Yesler Terrace development. The SHA selected Vulcan — with an assist from Capitol Hill Housing providing guidance for the affordable housing component of the proposal — to be the major private developer driving the Yesler Terrace Redevelopment Plan. As part of the agreement, Vulcan will make 20% of the more than 600 apartment units in the three planned projects available as affordable housing. The rest will be offered at “market rate” and will likely be snapped up by eager tenants making well over $45,000 a year who want to live on the edge of downtown and near a streetcar line that will connect the neighborhood to Capitol Hill and Pioneer Square.

“This is what it looks like. This is what it looks like to create healthy communities. This is what it looks like to do development rooted in the community vision. This is what development done right truly means,” Seattle City Council member Teresa Mosqueda said. “It’s not just housing and public spaces that we’ve created. We’ve created the opportunity for mixed income housing, for families to live in the city they work, for us to have a playground, for us to have a play field, for us to have a connected community. This is what it looks like to actually bring people to the table and realize the vision of what community has asked for.”

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