Tour of pedestrian streets of Seattle, hosted by Seattle Neighborhood Greenways on Sunday, September 24, 2023.
Throughout our project development, these are our guiding principles:
Create places for people, centered on the pedestrian experience
Embrace superior & sustainable urban design best practices
Provide for the needs of local stakeholders & small businesses
Enhance the connection between campus & community
A conceptual-10% design plan* for NE 42nd Street to implement prioritized community strategies.
Aided by our consultant team, we will host a series of three stakeholder workshops for: 1) understanding conditions, 2) exploring options, and 3) deciding direction, followed by a public open house to deliver a conceptual-10% design plan to the City for the redesign of two blocks of NE 42nd Street in the walkable core of our U District neighborhood.
As a ‘Green Street’, this adaptive street will address the five-acre deficit† of public open space in our high-rise urban center and follow strategies from the extensive community engagement and planning documents over the past decade. The community-vetted conceptual plan will be leveraged to attract funding to transform this street to meet the community's vision.
Two blocks of NE 42nd Street, between Brooklyn and 15th Avenues NE
Actually, the project is overdue as the community continues to realize the increased density charted-out by the 2017 rezoning of the district which allowed taller buildings. As these buildings begin to materialize, it’s critical to have a growth map that guides important investments in public space and other community assets to ensure that the U District remains livable, sustainable, and accessible to all. Now, as Seattle prepares to revise its One Seattle Comprehensive Plan, the U District is primed to realize its potential.
The conceptual-10% design plan was completed in the summer of 2023.
We are thrilled to have small business owners, property owners, residents, students, workers, and professors around the table to guide this project. Our project steering committee also includes participation by the following organizations: U District Advocates, U District Community Council, U District Partnership, and the City of Seattle. Project expertise is provided by our consultant team of Site Workshop and Mayfly Engineering.
For more than 100 years, the U District has served as the center of public life for most of North Seattle as well as the economic engine that is the University of Washington. As greater density continues to bring more residents, workers and visitors, it’s imperative that our public realm supports a variety of safe, accessible, and vibrant ‘third places’ to welcome the anticipated 5,000 new households and 20,000 daily commuters.
In 2015, the City developed the U District Green Streets Conceptual Plan to outline a common approach to the design of three key streets in the heart of the U District: Brooklyn Avenue NE, NE 43rd Street, and NE 42nd Street. The framework was applied to the portion of the first two streets that are adjacent to the U District light rail station, which opened in 2021.
This current project on NE 42nd Street will follow the guiding principles in that conceptual plan to engage the community and stakeholders to help shape this important cross-street in the heart of the U District as a gateway between campus and our commercial core. The project will also coincide with an update to the original Conceptual Plan, as planned by the City, to reflect recent refinements to green streets.
The many benefits of the project include the following:
• Activate public right-of-way on two central blocks on NE 42nd Street.
• Improve an accessible-for-all connection between the light rail station, The Ave, and UW Campus.
• Prioritize active, coordinated, multi-modal, mobility choices.
• Provide attractive space for outdoor dining and retail in the commercial core.
• Realize the promise of this city-designated neighborhood ‘green street’.
• Contribute to an environmentally-sustainable, high-density neighborhood.
• Address the five-acre deficit of open space with a formative contribution to our open space network.
• Connect the budding placemaking strategies of the adjacent alley next to Café Allegro.
• Create a public ‘living room’ to nurture outdoor social interactions, host events, music, and dining.
• Welcome new visitors and residents alike as a major gateway between UW Campus and The Ave.
• Promote a shared design vision and implementation strategy for green streets in the U District.
• Enhance the U District’s pedestrian experience, a top priority of our community.
A critical benefit will be to effectively empower a coordinated community to participate in and steward development decisions to realize a vision of the neighborhood focused on the common good.
* 10% design plan: Critical to the success of this project is its eventual implementation into the U District. Therefore, we structured our project deliverable, the 10% design plan, to integrate with the standard project flow of the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT). With a 10% design plan, SDOT can leverage the document to find funding to then proceed to the next key steps on the way to actual construction: 30%, 60%, 90%, 100%. We believe that with the goal of a 10% design plan, our project will be more likely to reach fruition.
† Five acre deficit: The City of Seattle calculated a five-acre deficit of public open space in the University District in their 2015 U District Urban Design Environmental Impact Statement: On page 3.7-8, in Table 3.7-3, it states that the 2013 Deficit is 2.9 acres, while the 2035 deficit is 5.1 acres. Note that this determination was prior to the 2017 rezone of the University District to high-rise development up to 33 stories.
Public comment received on the U District EIS: "While the adjacent University of Washington campus has open space, it serves the student and employee population of the University, and not the general public, and the DEIS correctly excludes the University of Washington from the analysis on open space.”
Furthermore, in the 2015 University District Parks Plan Update, on page 12, it states: “While the District features a few excellent parks, along with access to active recreation in Cowen Park and attractive passive open spaces throughout UW’s campus, there is an existing shortfall of open space in terms of the City’s goals (as of 2013). The approximately 1,500 housing units under construction and the additional 4,000 more expected of the 20 years will exacerbate this issue. By 2035, the deficit is expected to grow unless the additional parks and open spaces can be provided.”
The 2013 U District Urban Design Framework, page 13, states: “The University District Park Plan (2005), which addresses the existing and future open space deficit in the U District. It includes priorities for the Parks Department in terms of new open space investments.”
The 2012 University District Urban Design Framework - Existing Conditions Report, page 56, states: “The Seattle Parks Department published the University District Park Plan in 2005. The plan identified an existing deficit in publicly-owned open space, as identified by Comprehensive Plan open space goals for the University District Northwest Urban Village.”
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