Urban Fold

Seattle Unveils Grand Plans for Its Waterfront, But Who's Going to Pay for it?

Last week, landscape architect James Corner presented a transformative vision for remaking Seattle's waterfront after the removal of the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Lynn Thompson describes Corner's plan, and its accompanying funding challenges.

A heated saltwater swimming pool on a barge? A seasonal roller rink on a pier? A mist machine? Sign us up for a visit to Seattle's waterfront of the future, as presented last week in the latest iteration of a plan by James Corner Field Operations, refined after months of public consultation. Other elements of the plan include parks, pathways and public plazas intended to provide increased public access to the waterfront year-round. 

Compared favorably to, "two of Seattle's major civic undertakings - the 1962 World's Fair and the Forward Thrust initiative in the late 1960s that built the Kingdome, cleaned up Lake Washington and built dozens of public swimming pools and community centers," Corner's plan is being enthusiastically endorsed by the city's Central Waterfront Committee.

Now about that $420 million price tag, which the Waterfront Committee's finance subcommittee believes, "half of which would come from a local improvement district funded by downtown property owners, with the rest from city taxpayers and private donors," writes Thompson.   

"Members of the finance committee said their funding plan is both realistic and achievable."

"We went into this worrying about the scale," said Gerry Johnson, a Seattle attorney and co-chairman. "We've emerged being very confident that this is something we can accomplish."

 

Full Story: After the Alaskan Way Viaduct, city sees 'a waterfront for all'

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