WSDOT Image via HugeAssCity

With all the disagreement about how to replace (or not) the viaduct’s car capacity, there’s been very little discussion of what the waterfront will actually look like. The entire purpose of burying the freeway, after all, is to create a wonderful urban space.

Luckily, that’s about to change, as Seattle has chosen four architects (out of 30 applicants) to present their visions to the public:

The next step in the selection process will be public presentations on September 15 at Benaroya Hall’s S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium (200 University Street, Seattle) from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. (please note the time change). This will be an opportunity for Seattleites to hear shortlisted designers explain their skills, experience and approach to the project, as well as ask questions. The lead designer will be selected in part based on the quality of their presentation and ability to engage the public.

See also Crosscut for a discussion of the candidates.

I’m actually very fearful for this process. I sense an uncritical sentiment for “green space” — which, if poorly designed, can be dead 300 days a year — and a certain segment of the population who wants to make sure that no one makes a profit on this. I, for one, would like to see some commerce and development mixed in with the parkland.

111 Replies to “Seattle Waterfront Proposals Presented September 15th”

  1. It’s great to see the George Benson Waterfront Streetcar in this drawing, but why is it single-tracked?

    If the streetcar is brought back, what is the point of private automobiles on that stretch of asphalt, when it should be a cycle track, and available for loading/unloading for local business, and emergency vehicles, only?

    Also, where is the beach with hauled-in sand? Certainly, the waterfront should be more than just another way-overpriced shopping mall. A little less heat-absorbent brick would be nice. Though I prefer zeroscaping, grass is better than brick walkways simply because it is cooler in the summer (which is when it isn’t raining).

    1. Eliminating local vehicle access entirely would be foolish, especially if we want to develop the land that right now sits under the viaduct. We would need to ensure there is very little parking along the waterfront for that to work.

      1. The main thing is to not have the road connect through, and be essentially invisible when not in use.

      2. But what about the Edgewater and the Olympic Sculpture Park? Are you suggesting we sever the connection to Broad St? There are existing businesses on Alaskan Way on the east side of the street whose parking lots are behind the BNSF ROW.

        I suppose we could close all the grade crossings, open up the parking lots to access from the cross streets from Elliot Ave, and turn the north end of Alaskan Way into a large cul-de-sac serving the Edgewater, Myrtle Edwards, the sculpture park, and a new terminus for the waterfront streetcar.

      1. It’s sorta like the Tollefson Square in downtown tacoma, all bright clean sterile concrete so the few days that you do get sun here, you get baked from all sides!

      2. And they are portraying it in Summer. What’s that going to look like for the other 9 (or 11) months of the year? No one’s going to be strolling casually when it’s raining out in such a wide open (and rather sterile) area. I don’t pretend to know of a solution, but it has to be considered.

    2. I really wouldn’t read anything into the streetcar image; I think the chances of that coming back are basically zero.

      1. Especially since there’s apparently no plan for getting power to the thing…they didn’t draw in any trolley wire or support poles!

      2. The equipment is still on the property, however i think it will take the city of seattle do to anything about bringing it back to service.

    3. I’d love to see (among other things): a pétanque court, sea organ (see Zadar, Croatia) and space for civic presentations/competitions similar to Washington D.C.’s Solar Decathlon.

    4. The streetcar should also go all the way north to Pier 91, with stops at SAM Sculpture Park (designed to have TWO Stops) and the Amgin campus, (also built with a trolley extension in mind) then terminate at the cruise ship Pier, so that half million transits, and the thousands of crew, and pier workers can use it from May through October… An extension that SHOULD be running NOW to capitalize on the tourism and their dollars, as well as funding from Amgen. It is just wasteful to have the trolley locked up and not running after the 20 years and millions spent to get the ROW and the machines.

  2. I agree with Martin’s sentiment that private economic development should be part of the plan – restaurants & cafes, galleries & shops, and perhaps residences, interspersing areas where interesting things can happen – perhaps some stages or bandstands, a large open-air chess board, etc. Things that will draw people and activities.

    1. Can some converted space be set aside for Duwamish-owned businesses? I think honoring our First Nations by giving them back a little of their land would be a draw.

      1. Unfortunately, the Duwamish have yet to obtain federal tribal recognition, so the tax-free part and the casinos may depend on giving a plot of land to the Suquamish instead.

      2. Casino is a great idea, but the city should set it up and use the proceeds to build light rail…

    2. I’d also recommend making sure you allow bars and possibly even clubs on the waterfront as well, to make sure theres nightlife down there to help keep the resturants and businesses open late. last time i was down there in the twilight hours the place was a ghost town after about 7…

      1. Why? Are you concerned people will fall into the sound? I’d be more concerned about people getting hit by freight trains.

        I don’t think putting bars on the waterfront is a good idea because access is so limited. Even with transit, there’s still essentially only one way in and out: at the south end. We don’t need a reservoir of nightlife which the police and emergency services can’t access, especially if the mayor manages to get the relaxed liquor laws he, the city council, the police, club and bar owners, and quite a few citizens would like.

  3. During the time the waterfront is rebuilt, that might be the most opportune time to build ROW for West Link. Build West Link as an elevated structure above the cycletrack or a walking path, providing raincover.

    Connect to Central Link stations via tunnels, with elevators going up to 1st and 2nd Avenue.

    If people love their viaduct view, they can retain in on West Link.

    (This assumes that a feasible path is found to West Seattle and to Ballard.)

    1. Of course, if West Link were to be built here, that would make the George Benson moot. Just use the money that was going to be put into the 1st Ave Streetcar into building this starter segment of West Link, instead.

      1. But I thought the purpose of redeveloping the waterfront was to eliminate the concrete curtain. Building an elevated Link structure would kind of defeat that purpose, wouldn’t it? I would think that if we ran light rail up the waterfront a surface alignment would make the most sense.

      2. Good point, building an elevated light rail line, while not as big as the viaduct, would not be the best idea.

      3. It would certainly be a lot less of an obstruction and eyesore than a boulevard full of trucks taking the shortcut/cheapcut between Interbay and SODO.

        We need a way to move people to/from/along the waterfront. If we don’t want a lot of parking lots and car traffic, then we’ll have to have a streetcar or light rail.

      4. Then, you’ll probably hate my suggestion of also elevating the cycle track, so that walking across it doesn’t become a game of Frogger.

      5. I know this is semantics, but Brent, I think you are referring to a shared-use path (or exclusively bike path) and not a cycle track. Am I correct?

      6. A bike path that can be used for commuting speed. With the volume of people using the waterfront for recreational purposes, we’ll need at least one dedicated bike path and multiple foot paths.

        Of course, we need to figure out how to get those lots of people there through connections other than driving their personal smogmobiles there.

        A “boardwalk” adjoining, but in front of, the rail structure would be a place to put one of the foot paths.

      7. I think a bike path is a great idea. On the west side of Manhattan, they have a bike path that parallels the freeway, where people can cruise as fast as they’d like to go, then next to the water they allow walking only. It works really well because you can cruise down the waterfront and stop off and stroll at different points in the park.

      8. How ’bout building a cut-and-cover West Link integrated with the necessary rebuild of the seawall? Oh, wait…..

      9. Sure, but elevated Link would have a much smaller footprint than a the alaskan way viaduct. Plus, it’s a lot less noisy and would actually drive a large amount of pedestrian activity.

      10. If you build west side light rail it has to be between 1st and 5th to allow for easy transfers and to make it closer to the downtown core.

      11. Have West Link turn on Jackson to head to King Street/ID Stations, then interline with the SODO track.

      12. How are you going to get into ID Station from Jackson St? It’s in the tunnel. Are you going to tunnel deeper under King St Station and make ID station a two-level station?

      13. No, it would run at-grade on 4th Ave S, and then interline at Stadium Station. That is just one of many possibilities.

      14. Building either the George Benson or West Link as in the sketch has the problem that people can freely wander across the tracks.

      15. Building Link along the waterfront is just not a good idea—it has horrible catchment, would require negating the benefits of eliminating the viaduct by building yet another viaduct for trains, or would require surface-running thus eliminating space for pedestrians, and it’s got nowhere to go at the north end without destroying Myrtle Edwards park or tunneling under the BNSF ROW. All of this puts additional stress on the new seawall that we need to build to hold back the fill that comprises the waterfront.

        The streetcar mode is a much more feasible option. For one, it has historical precedent. It also has tourism and historical value. The trains are shorter and less disruptive to pedestrian traffic, and people already expect streetcars to operate in existing ROW and are therefore more used to interacting with them (crossing tracks, etc.) We could get away with a single-track streetcar terminating at the Sculpture Park. For revenue purposes it doesn’t even need to be interlined with the rest of the streetcar system; if we build a new streetcar barn at the south end of the waterfront, we don’t need a connection at all. (Though it would be nice to originate in Pioneer Sq regardless.)

        Long rambling story short: I think people can deal with crossing the streetcar tracks. Link tracks would be impassible, which is moot because building Link on the waterfront is a bad idea.

      16. Having the waterfront streetcar not connect to any other transit would defeat much of the point of the streetcar. People should be able to come into downtown from far distances, without cars, and have easy access to the waterfront. The incentive to drive into downtown and park on the waterfront, or by the streetcar terminus, should be minimized.

        The engineering problems you point out pale in comparison to the engineering problems of building a second DSTT. They are solvable problems.

        Plus, a single-track streetcar would not be considered a replacement for a through street. If we don’t build a sufficiently-high-capacity rail line, then automobiles will continue to rule the waterfront.

      17. I’ve heard the Benson streetcars are in need of a rebuild, and Australia won’t export any more of them. Of course, there must be some off-the-shelf streetcar that looks nostalgic without necessarily replicating all the details of the Melbournes.

        The main reason people don’t go to the waterfront is the steep hillside from 1st Ave. What we need is a top-to-bottom elevator at Pike Street and other places. The only one is at Bell Street. The Pike elevator covers only a small part of the ascent.

        Transfering at Intl Dist is a long way out of the way. Most people are at midtown (Pike-ish), going to the Aquarium area or to the ferries.

        Still, a streetcar needs to connect to Intl Dist, because many people are connecting from other transit, and it’ll have to do until elevators are installed.

        Single track is a bummer. The headways were 20 minutes when the streetcar was running. And the streetcar was significantly slower than a trolleybus. It really needs a 10-minute frequency to be most effective, and that I presume requires double tracks.

      18. I really don’t understand why people here want to rebuild the waterfront streetcar. A 1st ave streetcar would be a much better investment, it’s way closer to high density areas. The waterfront streetcar would have one side mostly water. Even from 1st ave it isn’t too far of a walk to the attractions on the waterfront.

        While in an ideal world with unlimited transit funding having a waterfront streetcar would be nice, in the real world a 1st ave streetcar would be much more useful.

      19. The Pike Place elevator in the middle of the garage covers the entire top-bottom run. Just don’t use the more obvious one in the corner of the garage.

      20. Why would wondering across the track be that much of a problem? Most European cities and Portland, Oregon have done a pretty good job running trains along stretches of dedicated surface streets with priority traffic signals in place (though, Portland doesn’t do this part, I don’t think).

        Besides fighting an overly dependent car culture, why couldn’t we run Link down Alaskan Way or Western at street level and then down Elliott and 15th Ave to Ballard? When you get to Elliott, have the trains on the western side of the street with one lane of traffic each direction on the east side. Why can’t we, just once, sacrifice some car lanes (or god forbid, freeway lanes) for rail?

      21. @ Stephen,

        The 1st Ave Streetcar has been on hold, I believe, because we want to figure out if and where West Link can go through downtown.

        Consider what it would look like to have a whole bunch of elevators connecting the waterfront to West Link Stations on 1st Ave. We’d pretty much have to clear out through-traffic on 1st Ave, and dead-end some east-west streets, in order to make a light rail line on 1st Ave workable.

        Ferry traffic must still get through, but hopefully WSDOT will some day decide on a preference for a more energy-efficient future generation of foot ferries.

        Yeah, local traffic needs to transport goods, too, so there would be some limited roads going to cul-de-sacs.

        But the only way I see the 1st Ave Streetcar happening is if that is the choice of route for West Link.

        Then, trucks will pretty much be forced to use the out-of-way tunnel due to lack of other routes, and people will be slapping themselves upside the head saying, “Gee, shouldn’t someone have noticed that the tunnel should have gone toward Interbay?”

      22. The Waterfront Streetcar, West Link, and the First Ave Streetcar are in my mind three very different things. West Link would be a high capacity corridor with relatively few stops probably underground on its way through Central Downtown from Ballard to West Seattle. The First Ave Streetcar would go in traffic and stop frequently and would be be mostly for circulation for tourists and residents within the “West Edge” (I guess no one actually calls it that) of Downtown. The Waterfront Streetcar is part tourist attraction and part real transit option that brings tourists to the Waterfront and helps Waterfront employees and residents get Downtown. All three need to be built someday. Because funds are lacking, the First Ave Streetcar and West Link probably won’t be built for quite a long time, but the Waterfront Streetcar could be opened with the new Alaskan Way, because, as they are completely tearing up and replacing the street, laying tracks in each direction really wouldn’t add that much of an expense, comparatively.

      23. Brent,

        You’re very right about trucks to Interbay. Connecting to Aurora between Denny and Mercer will not serve them at all. It’s a very poor choice.

      24. And yet, nobody is being fired for this moronity (except Mayor Nickles, who wasn’t the one pushing for a freeway to replace a freeway).

      25. I think we should take a cue from our grand neighbor to the south San Francisco who has successfully removed their viaduct freeways from their waterfront but have retained roads and boulevards through the area. Business are accessible both by car and by a multitude of transport modes including a vintage street car that integrates with the rest of the MUNI system. So, to that end, I think a service road with cul de sacs to service business supplemented by garage structures with high fees for those that just have to bring their cars down there. Might as well make them pay for the garage structure.

        On the subject of an elevator system from the waterfront to the upper streets of downtown, take a look at this subway setup in the port city of Haifa Israel.

        It’s called the Carmelite and is a quite fascinating system. I got to ride it back in the 1990’s.

      26. Ty:

        Portland MAX has signal priority on the new north-south alignment, which is why that line makes so much better time across downtown despite going the “long way.”


        I’ve long thought the,, and examples would have made much better sense as a replacement for the First Hill Link stop than the just-as-slow-as-the-trolleybuses streetcar will.

        They could built it on the cut-and-cover cheap beneath Madison or Marion — avoiding the mythical First Hill soil issue — all the way from the Ferry Terminal to the Hospitals, with a pedestrian connection to the Transit Tunnel.

      27. @eric: I’ll try to find the Pike Place parking elevator. Since I don’t drive to the market, I didn’t know about it. I was referring to the one west of the market, between a skybridge and a staircase. That was the only elevator I knew of. The other one should be publicized more (thinking about the time I underestimated how many stairs there were and made my poor mom walk down them). I hope you don’t have to walk through the entire parking garage to get to the elevator, like some elevators are.

        @stephen: I’m not advocating for the waterfront streetcar. I’m just saying that if we do it, we should do it right. That means addressing the frequency and slowness. I’m happy with the waterfront bus, and we could also consider a trolleybus.

    1. Sadly, the city SDOT is also taking it slow. The official reason is waiting for a viaduct decision… but the Benson trolley COULD be running RIGHT NOW with very little more cost. We have the ROW through the city, and it would be a no brain er to run it along the EAST side of Myrtle Edwards Park. a stop at each end of the sculpture park, and each end of Amgen, Parallel to BNSF up to the viaduct, then east west parallel to the Viaduct… a last turn south onto the dock, and voila… you have connected a half million potential riders… the south end could along the ROW down to the Ferry terminal to meet up with 4.1 million walk on. Along the way, you would pass the Aquarium, the Market Hill Climb, Pier 66 and another 400,000 passenger transits, the Marriott, and then the Clipper.

      Thats a WHOLE lot more than are at either end of the SLUT… If we could find $52 million to build that, we should be able to find the 20 million it would probably cost to extent and reengage the old line. Seriously… LONG overdue.

    1. Exactly what are you wanting to exhaust CO from? The bored tunnel isn’t going to run under the waterfront.

  4. Sand smand… the beach should be pea gravel and agates. But in any case there should be water access for people and not just rip/rap. Plus possible hand launched boat access, ie kayak, rowboats & small sailboats etc.

    And I too resent the use of the Benson trolleys when it’s pretty clear that the powers that run this city have no intention of ever letting it come back. (Even though the classic street cars in San Fransisco are immensely popular, as was the Benson line.)

  5. Having the entire viaduct area replaced with green space is going to be a waste in this city. People are barely out the way it is now with all of the space we have. I’m not saying we shouldn’t allocate some of the new-found space as a park, but it would be better utilized as mixed commercial/residential building. My two cents…

    1. I don’t understand the appeal of putting residential in this area. That would require significant infrastructure that isn’t required for commercial (primarily tourist) space, and is often in direct conflict (local access vs. gathering spaces and parks). Right now there’s no viable destination district in this city—the closest thing we have is the Seattle Center, which is in the midst of a residential neighborhood. The market is a single attraction in an otherwise busy downtown; tearing down the viaduct gives us the opportunity to revitalize the waterfront as a hub of attractions anchored by the market.

      1. I’m not saying everything has to be residential, but why not build both in a mixed use building? Kill two birds with one stone and this also encourages density. One of the reasons why I chose not to live downtown was because the lack of nearby conveniences that are open later. The closest grocery store (at the time) was QFC or Safeway on Mercer St. That was it besides the local deli that exist. Build a building with a reputable grocery store, or put a few small restaurants/bars in the lower floors. Additionally, living downtown also has the benefit of living extremely close to your potential employer.

      2. But there’s plenty of residential development in Belltown already, and much further room for growth. I don’t know if the fill under the waterfront is stable enough to support large structures, or whether we want to risk homes falling into the sound as the ground beneath them liquifies in the event of an earthquake. Plus the topography of the waterfront makes local access incredibly inconvenient. It’s a 90 foot climb from Alaskan Way to Elliot & Bell and there’s a freight line that can cut off the cross streets for 20 minutes at a time. Alaskan Way would essentially become a north-south parking lot for much of the day as residents fought with leisure traffic, particularly during cruise season.

        Residential development along the waterfront just isn’t the best use of the land. When the economy recovers, we need to encourage the resumption of dense development of Belltown, and hopefully build a new 24-hour Safeway or QFC in the heart of Belltown. An IGA that closes at 10pm just doesn’t cut it. Then we can talk about efficiently serving these residents’s transit needs with a second downtown light rail tunnel.

      3. How is it that you can put a 40 foot tall concrete freeway but can’t build a two story wooden building?

        And the freight line is underground until broad, which happens to be about where the viaduct ends.

      4. Whoops it’s actually lenora, but no one’s building anything in that part of the freeway. It’s fairly narrow, and the train tracks run underneath the freeway there.

        The rest of the viaduct area is a good candidate for some mixed-use.

      5. How is it that you can put a 40 foot tall concrete freeway but can’t build a two story wooden building?

        Notice that we’re talking about tearing down and not rebuilding the viaduct.

        Just because you can build something doesn’t mean you should. Since the waterfront is highly susceptible to liquefaction in the event of an earthquake, putting residences on the waterfront doesn’t scream “good idea” to me.

      6. Report has it that they are exporting SW-5 class cars to anyone whom wants to buy one. Further, i think that extending the Benson Line to Interbay, and loop it back up the hill to the Seattle Center/ Lower Queen Anne would be a great way of connecting those neighborhoods to the waterfront. (tourist traffic for The Center, and Downtown/Ferry access for lower QA).

      7. You can’t have a baron waste land of a concrete park that spans 15+ blocks along the waterfront. I agree that some of it should be used as a park, but not all of it. Look at the sculpture park and the walk/bike path that goes into Interbay. It’s not a highly used area – don’t get me wrong, people use it – but I cannot imagine a park this large to be that utilized.

        Your argument about topography is moot. Making the entire waterfront a park will still have similar topography issues that you bring up. At least with buildings, you can walk into the public lobbies to get up to the next Ave. (take a look at the ferry terminal at 1st and Marion. People come off the Ferries, go into the Exchange building to get to 2nd Ave by using the elevators, and then use the escalators at the Wells Fargo building to get up to 3rd Ave).

      8. I observed that there is already new residential structures in this area so you might as well continue to build a community there.

    2. I think it’s important you look to the future, and an increase in population and urban development where people need a real quality park to unwind. Every metropolitan city that has a QUALITY urban lifestyle (i.e. Chicago, New York) have green spaces that people flock to on weekends and after work. This city will not be getting less populous as time goes on.

      1. And we do already! Look at the number of parks we currently have and they’re easily accessible.

      2. Mike,
        I’m not sure if we’re talking the same thing. Yes, Seattle has parks, and you may consider them numerous, but it has no downtown destination park of the caliber I am referring to.

      3. We do have Cal Anderson park, which is a pretty good urban park, and Volunteer Park, which is farther out of the way. Freeway Park is there but it’s lacking in open space.

        Is a waterfront park really what we’re clamoring for, though? Quit frankly it would be a pain in the ass to get to for almost all the nearby residents. Those who could get to it easily (living north of Wall St.) already have Myrtle Edwards.

      4. Seattle just doesn’t have space for a Central Park. The Commons would have been it, and we voted it down. (Because we didn’t want public money benefiting Paul Allen. Kind of ironic now that he’s got his SLUT and the highrises are blooming… Maybe the Commons wasn’t such a bad idea after all, but too late.) Yes, Chicago’s Millenial Park and adjacent waterfront parks are excellent, and a big draw for Chicagoans and visitors, but… I just don’t see that happening on the Seattle waterfront. A park would be better than no park, but it’s not a high priority when there are so many other transportation issues.

        Myrtle Edwards park is there but it’s lightly used, why not focus on that? How about doubling the frequency of the waterfront bus and extending it to Seattle Center (1st & Republican)? That would make the waterfront more viable for a short excursion, and make the Sculpture Park more accessible too.

    3. I’ll take those two cents and add in two more to make it four.

      I absolutely agree.

      Having yet another barren concrete “plaza” is completely useless. Build a normal retail, mall complex — with free parking — would be a great boon to the city.

      I have to ask — with SR-99, are most cars using it to travel past Seattle — or are they terminating their trips in Seattle from the north and south?

      1. I believe somewhere else it was found that the majority of SR-99 traffic using the viaduct is actually by-passing the city and not using it for local access. If I can find the numbers, I’ll post them. I just don’t have the time to research at this moment.

      2. “Build a normal retail, mall complex — with free parking — would be a great boon to the city.”

        We already have a mall in Northgate (with free parking). And a quasi-mall downtown. And University Village (with free parking). Seattlites are not clamoring for another mall, so who would shop there? There are too many malls all over the country, and the older ones are decaying or being turned into something else. Our local example is the Supermall in Auburn. Northgate has been renovating, presumably to remain competitive. (Actually, Southcenter has been doing that too.)

        What Tukwila mainly likes about Southcenter is its tax revenue. Suburbanites like the free parking, but I doubt most of them would call Southcenter “wonderful”. It’s OK, and somewhat convenient, but it would be more convenient without all that traffic — but you can’t have both free parking and no traffic. (It’s nice how you can take the 70/71/72/73 to downtown every 7-15 minutes, vs waiting half an hour for the 150. If there weren’t all that free parking, there would be much better transit in the south county, because there would have to be.)

        So the big Southcenter mall with its acres of parking and traffic from the freeway exits, suburbanites may find anywhere from OK to wonderful to ugly, but many Seattlites find horrifying, and not something we want near our downtown or waterfront. Instead we’ll be able to take Link to Northgate the three times a year we need something that’s not available in the inner city.

      3. Don’t forget Totem Lake, it’s been dead for a long time and getting worse. They were going to redevelop it back around 2005 but it never happened. The only bright spot there is the Trader Joes.

  6. and hopefully build a new 24-hour Safeway or QFC in the heart of Belltown

    I just recently moved to a new apartment, and this is *the* reason that I didn’t consider Belltown. Seriously, what’s the deal? Do they expect everyone to go to Mercer Street? Or to drive?

    1. I have no idea. I lived in Belltown for a year when I first moved to town and I found myself schlepping groceries from Queen Anne more frequently than I would have liked. I don’t have a car, and the distance between my apartment and Safeway was just enough that outside of peak hours it was a toss-up whether I should wait for a bus or walk back to my apartment. Too often the IGA didn’t have something (even as something as basic as Coke Zero!) or was charging an exorbitant amount for it.

      Now I live a block from the Ballard QFC, and it’s great to be able to walk over there with my canvas totes at any time of the day.

      1. Glad you enjoy Coke Zero but it’s hardly a staple!

        On the IGA prices (and you could include Ralph’s and minimarts in this and to some extent the urban locations of chains like Safeway too): yes it’s more expensive to run an urban grocery store, but you have to factor in the time and money that you are saving by not heading to another neighborhood too. Same goes for drug stores, hardware, etc. And there’s also online ordering which can save both time and money on many products if you can wait for delivery.

      2. For better or worse soda is in very high demand, and it’s the product I had the most trouble with at the IGA. They were consistently low or out of stock of Coke Zero, and regularly low on almost all other diet sodas including Diet Coke.

        The IGA is laid out and intended to function like a traditional supermarket, but has neither the price nor selection. It’s a glorified Ralph’s. At least Ralph’s tends to have upmarket goods. If Gristedes can make supermarkets work in Manhattan, surely QFC or Safeway can make them work in downtown Seattle.

        Hopefully the new Target on 3rd and Pike will put serious pressure on grocery chains to expand downtown.

    2. They (whoever they are) expect people to take Link to the Red Apple on Beacon Hill, the QFC at Mount Baker, or the Safeway at Othello. Indeed, it is already happening.

      Though it involves an infrequent bus connection to Link, I do most of my grocery shopping at the Mount Baker QFC.

      1. By ‘they’, I meant Safeway, QFC, and anyone else who might consider building a grocery store in downtown.

      2. “They” want customers. There are three QFCs and two Safeways on Capitol Hill. I don’t know why they’ve skipped Belltown, why don’t you ask their regional managers? Maybe they can’t find a large enough lot, and they’re not interested in building any more “small” supermarkets. Maybe they’re keeping their eye on certain parcels.

        I wouldn’t shop there anyway, so I don’t care. Fifty kinds of ice cream, and maybe one without trans fat or corn syrup if you’re lucky. Vegetables with high prices but lesser quality.

        I think Belltown has just grown too quickly and that has taken people (corporations) by surprise. Plus, it never turned into the high-income yuppieville that retailers salivate over. Neighborhood small-retail moved in in 2000 but was immediately hit by the 2001 recession and then again by the 2008 recession. The total number of residents is not that large, and the junkies and homeless, er, dampen commerce. So I think companies want to expand into Belltown but are a little cautious. And a lot of people think (rightly or wrongly) that Mercer Street is not that far to go for groceries. Those all could be reasons.

    3. Are you referring to the 24-hour part or the full-service grocery? And to answer your question, based on people I’ve known I’d say about 60% of Belltown drives for groceries even if they walk or ride for commuting and most other things. Americans have an obsession with buying groceries in huge loads for some reason.

      1. Mostly the 24-hour part, but even being open until 12 or 1 would be way better than 10. I’d say that far more of my grocery trips are after 10 than before. But yeah, I’m probably the exception. :)

  7. Although I generally am in favor of development in urban centers wherever there is the opportunity, I oppose it on the Waterfront, except for the occasional one- or maybe two-story retail building or museum. Yes, just “open space” is a bad thing, but there are endless examples of very successful parks, or, more specifically, urban seawall promenades in North America.
    One thing that inherently makes any kind of promenade along the Waterfront in Seattle likely to be lively is that people are coming from hotels, parking garages, and residencies up the hill in Downtown to destinations like the Aquarium, Ye Olde Curiosity Shop, and the Ferry Terminal, so you will no matter what have people constantly walking back and forth and along the promenade. However, we want our promenade to be stellar, and not just be somewhere to walk through, so we can put, like I said, some low-rise restaurants and museums (can we get a Seattle Museum of Transportation?) in the middle of the walkway, along with lots of food carts, fountains, inviting seating, and other attractions.
    It is possible to make a great Waterfront linear park that does not involve development.

    1. Plus, there’s gotta be some way of designing some sort of good-looking AND useful escalator/stairs/elevator to get people up the steep hill from the waterfront to the main shopping/tourist area of downtown. A covered escalator(I think the Wells Fargo building has them between 2nd and 3rd avenues?) for most people to use and an elevator close by for everyone else. Somehow, there’s gotta be a way to design this that would make it look good and be useful. Other than that, I think its better to have more retail than residential. Maybe keep the residential in the northern and southern parts and have the center area be the retail…

      1. Yes, escalators and elevators are the forgotten forms of public transit! An escalator or PROMINENT pedestrian elevator (not buried in a parking garage) would attract more people to the waterfront than a streetcar/bus on Alaskan & Main ever will.

  8. The west side of Manhattan has kayaking, outdoor pubs, open grass fields, meandering trails through tall grass, etc. and it works wonderfully. The worse thing we could do is make the waterfront all commercial, it has to be attractive to the locals who aren’t looking for TGI Fridays and a space needle T-Shirt. The commerce is very limited on the Hudson River Park and it makes the area all the more appealing (and relaxing too).

  9. Please keep in mind that this is just a tiny sliver of land: 7 acres total. It won’t be spanning the entire waterfront. It’ll be smaller than Olympic Sculpture Park, smaller than Cal Anderson Park, and one FIFTIETH the size of Magnuson Park.

    WSDOT already has dibs on almost all of the land where the viaduct stands. They’re building a new surface highway (or “boulevard”) on almost all of the new open space. From the WSDOT blog:

    Once the tunnel is built and the viaduct is removed from the waterfront, what will go in its place? The answer is in the second video. We plan to build a new Alaskan Way boulevard in the footprint of the current viaduct. The new road will connect to Elliott and Western avenues, which is important for those traveling to the northwest section of the city, and will provide access to downtown and SR 99.

  10. WSDOT serves the governor and state legislature. We could ask our legislators to sponsor legislation to defund the boulevard portion of the project. Would the legislature really say no to the idea of a city voluntarily asking that money not be spent?

  11. As far as West Link goes, I think it would be wise to recrunch the numbers and determine for sure whether it could or could not fit in the DSTT. I tend to believe Ben’s numbers, but for a project of this scale, the engineers need to come up with a ridership number and see if it really doesn’t fit.

    If the rail tracks for whatever gets built on the waterfront are close to the buildings on the east side of the park (with Sound Transit or the City of Seattle buying the land back from WSDOT), I don’t think having them at-grade is that big a deal. If the tracks were running down the middle of the park, it would definitely be a problem.

    At any rate, we’ll regret if forever if we end up with an automobile-centric waterfront.

  12. On the subject of “West Link”: My audacious idea is to acknowledge that the Monorail at nearly 50 years old has served its full useful life and should be torn down but the right of way for it should be the basis for the start of a West Link line. It should be elevated just as the Monorail tracks are at least through to the Seattle Center. There should probably be some intermediate stops between Westlake and Seattle Center.

    1. I’ve been thinking the same thing, but I doubt it would ever happen. The thing makes enough tourist cash to justify its existence, and retrofitting elevated light rail through the same route would be a nightmare. I don’t think we could fit a two track viaduct in the same space; the monorail cars tilt quite heavily compared to LRVs.

      Besides, if we’re going to tear down the monorail, should we even consider building an elevated in town? I know New York and Chicago are renowned for their els, but the only reason they’re visually tolerable is their open-frame steel construction, which lends to tremendous noise. We’d be talking about running these things through the densest residential neighborhood in the city. Talk about environmental impacts!

      I actually thought in the opposite direction. We could retrofit the monorail and extend it into a tourist loop of sorts. From Westlake it would continue south on 5th Avenue to the ID/Qwest Field, then west on Jackson to Alaskan Way, north to the Pike Street Hillclimb where it would interface with a transfer point to the ground for waterfront access or to the market itself, then north on Alaskan to the Sculpture Park, and back up Broad Street and 1st Ave N to the Seattle Center. It would also be single-tracked, not double-tracked: trains would run either clockwise or counter-clockwise all day, at a 15 minute frequency. Patrons would buy a single ride for $4, or purchase a day pass as part of the CityPASS program (I’d value a day pass at the cost of two rides).

      I understand this directly conflicts with the arguments I’ve been making against an elevated Link route along Alaskan way. I think a single-tracked monorail would have much less visual, audible, and structural impact on the waterfront, but I still think it’s infeasible.

      1. I think the Kinkyoshara LRV’s are pretty quiet (unless they’re squealing) and I think that a 2 track system could be built in about the same amount of width as the current system provides. The tracks could be designed with noise deflectors. Don’t know about the curves though. If they have to be less sharp, ST could buy air rights above buildings.

        I think our LRV trains are “sexy” enough that tourists would ride them especially if you make it easy with a convenient fare card. I think the Queen Anne/Seattle Center station should probably be on

        Also, I don’t believe the trains would make any more noise than existing road noise, particularly trucks. Where I’m staying this trip, I’ve had occasion to take Link from along MLK and it is very quiet in operation. In fact I was waiting to cross the street at Columbia City Station after leaving a south bound train when all of a sudden the warning bell sounded on my left (the street post) and the NB train suddenly whizzed past from my right. That was a little freaky. I didn’t even know the train was in the station.

    2. “The thing makes enough tourist cash to justify its existence”

      Some people point out that it’s the only form of transit in Seattle that’s profitable, and that’s enough reason on its own to keep it running.

  13. West Link needs at least one stop in Belltown and One Stop in Queen Anne/Seattle Center. The amount of ridership that could be gained by serving these two high density/tourist destination neighborhoods would be huge. If we are going to Ballard through 15th, it cant just be straight from Alaskan to Elliot to 15th, there those stops would be much more inconvenient than a 2nd Ave Subway.

    1. A subway stopping in Queen Anne would be fine, but for a surface bus (aka RapidRide) it takes too much time. Most people go to Seattle Center only occasionally, yet the downtown-Ballard bus makes a five-minute detour every run to serve it. Which would be fine if there were an all-day express, but the express is peak-only and unidirectional.

  14. maybe they can tear out that crappy sculpture “park” and build a new carbarn there. its not like there is any art there anyway.

  15. Why is there no talk of just removing the top level of the existing viaduct and make it an elevated view park/bike path/walking path with the same parking underneath? It’s the trafic noise from the viaduct that makes the waterfront unusable to anyone but tourists. That and crappy restaurants.
    A slippery during winter,baking during summer brick surface is just a bad idea.

  16. I checked out the waterfront elevator at Pike Place Market, the top-to-bottom one. I had to look at the map near the information booth to find it, then walk down the crowded gangway parallel to Pike Place looking for a “Parking” sign. The door was clearly marked but not prominent, and was further down than the map seemed to indicate. There should be a “WATERFRONT ELEVATOR” sign in the aisle, and similar signs from the market entrance at 1st & Pike.

    The bottom of the elevator goes a short distance through the parking lot, then a sidewalk on a slight hill that may be hard for the handicapped, then some ugly concrete walkways to Alaskan Way and the Aquarium.

    Coming back, there’s a closer elevator with a neon sign saying “To the Market”, but when you get to it, a sign says you have to go to the other elevator because this one doesn’t go all the way to the market. They could have extended a skybridge to it, but no.

    So, la la, it’s possible to get to the waterfront from Pike Place without climbing stairs. But you’d only know the way if you parked in the parking garage.

    There’s room for improvement in the elevator locations or at least signage.

Comments are closed.