In preparation for $10M overhaul, Freeway Park considered for Seattle landmarks protections

(Image: City of Seattle)

Part of the city’s connective tissue between Capitol Hill, First Hill, and downtown, and a possible first piece of a puzzle in someday capping I-5’s route through Seattle with parks, commercial development, and housing, Freeway Park could soon be an official landmark.

The Seattle Parks space’s nomination for protections of its 1970s era design and municipal brutalism will go up for consideration in front of the landmarks board Wednesday.

David Graves, a strategic advisor for the parks department, said it was time to consider the protections following its 2019 placement on the National Register of Historic Places and as the city gears up for a $10 million overhaul of the unique — and uniquely challenged — park.

Graves said the pandemic-delayed upgrades are now planned to begin early next year when the project is put out to bid in early 2023. “We will be working with the Landmarks Preservation Board to make sure all improvements are consistent with the landmarks designations,” Graves said. Continue reading

Born on the 4th of July, Freeway Park’s targeted improvements move forward

By Ryan Packer

On Sunday, Freeway Park turned 45 years old. Seattle’s often overlooked lid over I-5, and the first city park anywhere that was constructed over an existing freeway, always seems to be in a race against time. The Brutalist fountain still carries a heavy air of a different era, thanks largely in part to the fact that maintenance hasn’t quite kept up with need. The nooks and crannies these days are only for the most curious. But the latest attempt to give Freeway Park a new sparkle is moving forward.

The improvements are planned after a cash infusion coming from the expansion of the Washington State Convention Center blocks away. Out of the $10 million coming as part of a public benefits package, only $6 million will be available for construction of physical improvements to the park. The rest will mostly go toward “design and project management, permitting, sales tax and contingencies”, with a $750,000 slice set aside for park activation. A master plan of an estimated $23 million in improvements has been narrowed down to fit inside the $6 million budget. Continue reading

With engineering and economics study underway, Lid I-5 effort holds open house

A rendering from an early community workshop on ideas for the lid concept including housing, open park space, and more (Image: Lid I-5)

With work underway to study the “engineering and economics of lidding I-5 between Madison Street and Denny Way,” a Lid I-5 Community Open House on Capitol Hill Wednesday night will provide updates from the groups advocating for the project, two city council members, and the people managing the research.

In March, CHS reported on the $1.5 million study process and the lengthy local and national firms contributing work to the project. The Lid I-5 group has been advocating for the lid and helping to push the idea from an urbanist dream into City Hall’s budget. The University of Washington is also conducting a real estate analysis of the economics and value a lid might have for private development that could also consider how funds generated by the new buildings might offset the costs of building the lid.

Council members Sally Bagshaw and Abel Pacheco are scheduled to attend the open house Wednesday at The Summit meeting space at 420 E Pike to remark on the earliest stages of the effort. The session is slated to start at 5:30 PM. You can learn more and register here.

Team comes together for City of Seattle feasibility study for new lid over I-5

A $1.5 million process is underway to study the feasibility of a new lid over I-5 connecting downtown to Capitol Hill somewhere between Denny Way and Madison and you can get a look for yourself at the areas involved and how they might change in the future.

The city announced that a consultant team led by global engineering firm WSP has been selected to run the $1.5 million study of the technical feasibility of building a lid with possible green spaces and public parks, schools, and affordable housing developments. Continue reading

Eight years in, Seattle ready to study ‘engineering and financial feasibility’ of lidding I-5

It’s a Seattle Freeway Revolt of a different sort and now the city has the money to execute an engineering and financial feasibility study of the potential benefits “for covering more of the I-5 freeway trench in central Seattle.”

The $1.5 million in funding from the Washington State Convention Center expansion’s $83 million public benefits package is now available to the City of Seattle and an advisory council has been formed, the Lid I-5 community group announced last week:

The study funding enables OPCD to procure an expert consultant team with qualifications in civil and structural engineering, economic analysis, urban design, and environmental mitigation. The study is expected to last through 2019 and will inform the next steps in lid design, planning, permitting, and capital funding. Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) staff will be engaged during the process. Recent and ongoing freeway lid projects – including in Bellevue, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Dallas, and Philadelphia – provide helpful case studies and a pool of experienced specialists that Seattle’s effort can draw from.

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‘Collab #2’ continues community design process for new I-5 lid

A team presentation from Collab #1

The second in three “collab” events to fine tune community-driven design concepts for a new lid over I-5 will take place Tuesday night.

Lid I-5 Collab #2

The Lid I-5 Collab #2 will focus on taking the project through the “60%” design stage, organizers say. It will be followed by a final collaborative event on August 1st and a presentation of the final design in October. Continue reading

‘Community Package’ including affordable housing, park cash gets support in Convention Center expansion hearing

Council member Mike O’Brien (right) views a model of the planned convention center expansion (Image: CHS)

Fine tuning some $83 million in public benefits — and how quickly the cash to pay for them will be delivered — was the theme of the night as neighborhood, transit, and public space advocates came to City Hall Wednesday.

“The sooner we can get more money for affordable housing the better,” said Seattle City Council sustainability and transportation committee chair Mike O’Brien.

Wednesday’s hearing featured mostly speakers in support of the Community Package Coalition formed to create a shared platform of community priorities for a roster of public benefits to be exchanged for the vacation of “Block 33, Block 43, Block 44, Olive Way & Terry Avenue.” The city land is planned to be part of the construction of the estimated $1.6 billion Washington State Convention Center addition and development that will create a massive new exhibition facility across I-5 between Pike and Olive Way.

“Equity and equitable outcomes should be at the forefront of discussions around large real estate projects such as this one,” said McCaela Daffern from Capitol Hill Housing. “I ask that you make note of the significant contributions toward affordable housing secured thanks to advocacy of Capitol Hill housing and the rest of the coalition.” Continue reading

Affordable housing over I-5? It’s not as crazy as you might think

The “X-1” group was the set of volunteers tasked to come up with ideas on how to connect the lids with each other to make Seattle more of an interconnected city. The group was joined by six other groups working on various sites at the Lid I-5 Kickoff Charrette at 12th Avenue Arts on Sunday morning. (Image: Alec Dietz)

By Alec Dietz, UW News Lab/Special to CHS

When Interstate 5 was built more than 50 years ago, many didn’t consider the problems associated with a massive highway splitting up the University District from Wallingford, Capitol Hill from downtown, and First Hill from the International District in the Seattle area.

But, a small group of architects, engineers, and community members met at the 12th Ave Arts building on Capitol Hill Sunday to discuss ways that they could heal those divides, and fix lids that had already been built in Seattle, at a Lid I-5 Kickoff Charrette gathering led by co-chairs and architects John Feit and Scott Bonjukian.

“Freeway Park is a beautiful design, but it didn’t work,” Feit said of one of the lids Seattle had tried already. “People are acknowledging that it is a beautiful design, but that it doesn’t work, and we want to make it better. That’s just something the city struggled with for decades.” Continue reading

Capitol Hill Community Post | Central Hills Triangle Collaborative — Join the tours and charrette

From Lid I-5

Funded by a $48,000 Neighborhood Matching Fund, the Collaborative is a major Lid I5 design initiative that will bring together the First Hill, Downtown, Denny Triangle, and Capitol Hill communities throughout 2018. We’ll use the results of the Collaborative to inform the scope of the City’s lid feasibility study and to create captivating illustrations of how lids will benefit the health, economy, and cohesion of urban neighborhoods.

Click here to register for the main event, the Collaborative kickoff charrette, on Sunday, January 21, 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM, at 12th Avenue Arts’ Pike-Pine room (please note the date has changed from previous notices).

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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: