Last evening I met with Scott Bonjukian, John Feit, and other leaders of the Lid I-5 project. I have known and worked with many on their board for over a decade – some were with me when we on the Allied Arts board created the Waterfront for All charettes, and look what has happened since!
The Lid I-5 effort is already underway. Decades ago in conjunction with WSDOT we built the Jim Ellis Freeway Park that creates more urban greenspace and provides areas of respite over the freeway. Freeway Park was recently mentioned in a PBS Special called Ten Parks that Changed America. We are working to make it more visible and user friendly right now.
Extending Freeway Park north to reknit Capitol Hill to Downtown, and phasing a connection between 1st Hill to Downtown are the Lid I-5 goals.
We can create a “public land make, not a land take” that could be available for affordable housing, more parks and green space, and private office space to help pay for it. As other big cities have shown, this is one way we can create new real estate for public/private partnerships and make our Downtown greener and more Age-Friendly.
Three illustrations from other cities are included below: a new park in Downtown Dallas, Chicago’s Millenium Park that covered the railroad tracks and created fabulous new public space in their downtown; and WSDOT investments over our own Mercer Island that covered the slash.
And, in Washington DC, work started on the $1.3 billion Capitol Crossing project. This is a 7-acre mixed-use project that will stretch over Interstate 395 and put an estimated 4,000 construction workers to work. When completed, the project is expected to contain a 2.2 million square feet of retail, residential and office space. The lion’s share of the costs will be borne by by private investors.
Our Lid I-5 group is working closely with Downtown Seattle Association, the Pike Pine Renaissance vision, and will coordinate with Seattle’s Design Commission and the public ideas coming from the new Convention Center. I fully support Lid I-5 in District 7, and recognize this is a project that will be envisioned and completed in phases over the next decade(s).
Like the work we are doing on the Waterfront, it will transform our city in wonderful ways.
Visionary? You bet. Pie in the sky? No way. It’s what we need to increase green over gray and another way to make our city truly Age Friendly.