Vision & Progress

A new era for our waterfront and our city  

Waterfront Seattle will fulfill the community’s vision for a central waterfront for all of Seattle: Beautiful public spaces for all, a salmon-friendly seawall, and year-round cultural, educational, and recreational activities. After more than a decade of public input, the Seattle waterfront is on its way to becoming a 26-block park and lively mixing ground that embraces our working waterfront while restoring the health of the nearshore environment.

Throughout history, use of Seattle’s central waterfront has been shaped by the prevailing forces of modernization of the times; trading, ship building, fishing, canning, industry, transportation, and tourism. For the first time, the people of Seattle are making intentional choices about how to improve the waterfront to best serve all current uses, our entire community, and our natural environment. Together, we’re building on Seattle’s rich history to create an urban shoreline for everyone. 

The principles guiding the vision for the waterfront park design, created through years of public input:

  • Create a waterfront for all.
  • Put the shoreline ecosystem and innovative, sustainable design at the forefront.
  • Reconnect the city to its waterfront.
  • Embrace and celebrate Seattle’s past, present, and future.
  • Improve access and mobility for people and goods.
  • Create a bold new vision that is adaptable over time.
  • Develop consistent leadership—from concept to ongoing maintenance and operation.

The waterfront park was developed through unprecedented collaboration between government, community leaders, tribes, the business sector, numerous stakeholders, and the public at large. According to a recent city-wide survey:

  • 78% are paying attention to the waterfront plans
  • 83% support a waterfront park
  • 87% say they are likely to visit the new waterfront park

Building high quality, programmed public spaces supports the building of strong communities that thrive into the future. As our region grows at one of the fastest rates in the country, the waterfront park takes on added importance. Waterfront Seattle will contribute more green space where the public will gather to enjoy each other and the natural beauty of Puget Sound. 

 

We’re transforming our waterfront, starting now

The City of Seattle, working with Friends of Waterfront Seattle and other project partners, will deliver portions of the park over the next few years, with the entire park scheduled for completion in 2022—2023. The Elliott Bay Seawall and Pike Place MarketFront are now complete. Next is the first piece of the park, Pier 62: The People’s Pier, to open in 2019. To see how the future waterfront will look, download the Friends augmented reality app.

Review the park’s history and track its progress here:

December 2009:  Central Waterfront Partnership Committee is formed by City ordinance to advise on public spaces and framework for design along the waterfront following Alaskan Way Viaduct (AWV) removal.

September 2010:  James Corner Field Operations (JCFO) is selected through an international competition to work with the City to design Seattle’s waterfront park.

January 2011:  Seattle City Council creates Central Waterfront Committee (CWC), Co-Chaired by Charles Royer and Maggie Walker, and adopts guiding principles to advance the project:

  • Create a waterfront for all
  • Put the shoreline and innovative, sustainable design at the forefront
  • Reconnect the city to its waterfront
  • Embrace and celebrate Seattle’s past, present and future
  • Improve access and mobility
  • Create a bold vision that is adaptable over time

2011—Today:  Broad public outreach strategy to ensure wide-ranging community participation in development of waterfront park design:

  • Over 400 public meetings, reaching over 15,000 people, generating more than 10,000 comments that were considered in creating the design
  • Four large design-focused events drew an average attendance of 900 people each
  • Surveys soliciting community input were conducted in 14 different neighborhoods across the city
  • Public outreach continues with open house meetings, neighborhood forums, and informational displays at fairs, festivals, and other community events, along with regular public hours in the project showroom at Friends of Waterfront Seattle HQ known as Waterfront Space

July 2012:  Waterfront park concept design, created by JCFO and informed by community input, along with CWC strategic plan presented at large civic meeting held at Seattle Center.

August 2012:  Seattle City Council adopts JCFO concept design & CWC strategic plan to design, fund, and steward the future waterfront park.

Summer 2012:  Friends of Waterfront Seattle is incorporated as part of Waterfront Seattle Strategic Plan.

November 2012:  Seattle voters approve (77%) $290M seawall bond to replace the Elliott Bay Seawall with a safe, sustainable design. 

November 2013:  Seawall construction begins.

December 2013:  Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) tunnel project stalls after boring machine “Bertha” encounters complications.

February 2014:  Mayor Murray forms the Office of the Waterfront within his office to coordinate interagency city departments involved in realizing the waterfront vision.

March 2014:  Large civic event at Fisher Pavilion in Seattle Center to roll-out 30% design of waterfront park.

August 2014:  Seattle voters approve Metropolitan Park District to create sustainable funding source for all Seattle parks. Measure includes $3.5M annually in perpetuity for future waterfront park.

September 2014:  Friends of Waterfront Seattle opens Waterfront Space in partnership with the City, a public project showroom, event space, and Friends’ headquarters.

September 2014:  With the 30% design milestone met, City Council dissolves CWC and smaller Waterfront Steering Committee is formed and members are appointed.

March 2015:  Seattle City Council action authorizing Pike Place Market expansion—called Marketfront—to proceed with $34M in city funding; MarketFront will connect to Overlook Walk, a key feature of the new waterfront park, including lawns, gardens, elevated views, and retail spaces.

March 2015:  Friends commissions public opinion research poll. Results taken from a city-wide survey show that:

  • 78% are paying attention to the waterfront plans
  • 83% support a waterfront park
  • 87% say they are likely to visit the new waterfront park

Summer 2015:  Friends of Waterfront Seattle activates temporary promenade during seawall construction with games, bathrooms, staffing, and launches Hot Spot in existing Waterfront Park, a public space activation pilot project that draws locals to the waterfront through free music and other events. 

June 2015:  Pike Place Market breaks ground on MarketFront.

August 2015:  Initiative 123—competing proposal to build an elevated park in the footprint of the Viaduct—makes the August 2016 primary election ballot.

August 2015:  Aquarium Master Plan to expand approved by Mayor and City Council.

December 2015:  Council action authorizing planning for Seattle Aquarium expansion with funding for initial design work.

December 2015:  WSDOT tunnel boring machine Bertha restarts.

July 2016:  Seattle City Council approves Pier 62 Rebuild ($29M capital project; Friends commits to raise $8M in capital funding).

Summer 2016:  Friends of Waterfront Seattle’s second season of Hot Spot begins July 2 with KEXP Rocks the Dock, and continues with diverse, free programs designed for local audiences. The Hot Spot pavilion, an artful, temporary canopy, designed by graduate students from UW Department of Architecture, is installed.

Summer 2016:  “No on I-123” campaign launched with Friends’ help to defeat ballot measure that threatens waterfront park plan. 

August 2016:  I-123 defeated by 83% (results mirror 2015 public opinion research polling results).

April 2017:  WSDOT tunnel boring machine completes digging the tunnel putting the project back on track toward viaduct removal in 2019.

June 2017:  Pike Place Market’s expansion MarketFront opens.

Summer 2017:  Hot Spot season three kicks off with KEXP Rocks the Dock on July 1, followed by free, diverse waterfront summer public programming every weekend through September, presented and managed by Friends. 

August 2017:  City of Seattle releases Local Improvement District (LID) 

feasibility study estimating overall range in special benefits resulting from the waterfront improvements.  The LID is a key component of the funding strategy adopted in 2012 which allows property owners to contribute to cost to construct improvements which increase the value of their property. See: https://waterfrontseattle.org/lid

September 2017:  Seattle City Council adopts resolution affirming public and philanthropic funding for waterfront project, schedule for enacting Local Improvement District to provide additional capital funding, framework and schedule for City/Friends partnership to steward the future park.

Late 2017:  Elliott Bay Seawall replacement project is complete.

Late 2017:  Groundbreaking for Pier 62 rebuild project.

Fall 2018:  Seattle City Council to form Local Improvement District following a year of public outreach.

2019:  Rebuilt Pier 62 opens to public.

Early 2019:  Alaskan Way Viaduct is removed; construction begins on the entire waterfront park.

2022-23:  Park openings and construction completed

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