Image by James Corner Field Operations courtesy of the City of Seattle

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Waterfront Park?

Waterfront Park is a 20-acre connective public park along Seattle’s downtown central shoreline designed to create places for people to come together and enjoy the natural beauty of the Puget Sound region and the company of one another. Waterfront Park consists of a garden-filled pedestrian promenade, boardwalk, and bike path that tie together open public spaces such as action-packed piers, viewpoints, a habitat beach, and stunning elevated pedestrian connection into downtown.

Where is Waterfront Park?

Waterfront Park stretches from the Belltown to Pioneer Square neighborhoods along Seattle’s downtown central shoreline. The park connects with downtown Seattle to Elliott Bay through a series of east/west connections.

When will Waterfront Park open?

The first piece of the park — Pier 62 — opens in 2019 while the rest of the park is being built. Completion is set for 2023.

Who designed the future waterfront park?

James Corner Field Operations (JCFO) was selected after a competitive public process. They are a world-renowned landscape architecture firm, long-committed to the innovative design of public spaces. They then created a design that was informed by thousands of public comments and input from Seattleites throughout the city. For details on JCFO and its projects in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, London and more, visit www.fieldoperations.net.

How wide will the Alaskan Way surface street be?

The new Alaskan Way will have four general-purpose lanes of traffic. Additional ferry queuing and transit-dedicated lanes will be built south of Yesler.

Will there be parking along the new waterfront?

Yes, 300 new parking spaces in Pike Place Market Garage are open with street parking rates, the new Alaskan Way will have street parking, and the City has arrangements with several parking garages nearby to offer street parking rates.

Is the waterfront open during construction?

Absolutely! In addition to the Friends’ Hot Spot events on Pier 58, the Aquarium, the ferry terminal, the Great Wheel and dozens of businesses all the way to the Sculpture Park are open. It’s easy and fun to walk along the waterfront, enjoy the amenities, and see the transformation in motion.

The Viaduct demolition will be done this summer and Pier 62 will be completed at the end of the year. For details on the progress of the project, see Friends’ project timeline.

Does waterfront park go as far north as the Olympic Sculpture Park?

Not quite. The space to build 20 acres of waterfront park is only possible because of the Viaduct removal, which goes from the stadiums to Pier 62. The distance from Pier 62 to the Sculpture Park is more than a half a mile, and that space is intensely packed with train tracks, built-out city blocks, active piers, and transit access (see maps here). That said, we are working with lots of other partners to improve pedestrian and bike connections between Myrtle Edwards, Centennial, Olympic Sculpture and Waterfront parks.

How much will the new park cost?

The transformation of Seattle’s waterfront is a $1B+ capital project that includes the new Elliott Bay Seawall, removal of the Viaduct, rebuilding Alaskan Way surface street, and construction of the park. Waterfront Park will cost about $724 million of the total project.

Who is paying for Waterfront Park?

The reenergizing of Seattle’s waterfront is actually a variety of projects, funded by a variety of sources. Funds for Waterfront Park will come from a combination of state funding for Alaskan Way, a Local Improvement District (LID), philanthropy, a voter-approved seawall bond, and city funds. The park construction itself is funded mostly by downtown property owners (via a Local Improvement District), the City of Seattle, WSDOT, a parking tax, and philanthropic donations.

Friends of Waterfront Seattle is raising $110 million to support capital construction of the park. Friends is raising and additional $90 million to operate and program the park over a ten-year period (2018 – 2028).

How will you keep drug users, homeless encampments, and disruptive people from taking over the park?

Friends and the City of Seattle are working closely to ensure the waterfront is safe and welcoming for all. Four years of pilot projects have demonstrated success of Friends’ three-pronged strategy to make the waterfront safe and enjoyable for all: 1) comprehensive and diverse programming 2) public safety enforcement 3) meeting people where they are with outreach.

Through its partnership in the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program (LEAD), Friends has learned the importance of coupling enforcement with social services in reducing bad behavior on the waterfront. By partnering police officers with social workers, the LEAD program redirects low-level offenders and people with mental health issues to community-based service providers. Since LEAD began focusing on the waterfront in 2016, there has been a 30% decrease in citations and arrests, and those in need are being connected with the social services best able to help them.

Can I donate to help build Waterfront Park?

Absolutely! Companies, foundations and individuals are all welcome to contribute to the park—in fact, philanthropy is crucial part of the plan. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help Seattle build a beautiful front porch that brings environmental, social and economic benefits to all parts of our community.

Friends and the City are working together to integrate donor-recognition opportunities into the design of the park. For details regarding donor-recognition opportunities, contact us at [email protected].

Corporate, institutional, foundation donors, or individuals donating more than $10,000 should contact us at [email protected].

Individuals can contribute online on Friends’ website here.

What is Friends of Waterfront Seattle?

Friends of Waterfront Seattle is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit partner of the City of Seattle. We were created to help build Waterfront Park and ensure its lasting success.

Public-private partnerships benefit parks by providing diverse funding sources and allowing different organizations to bring different expertise together for a common purpose: making a great park experience.

Friends’ job is to ensure everyone feels invited and welcomed to be part of cultural, recreational, and civic experiences in a beautiful and safe environment. To do that, we’re educating the public about the park and its benefits, providing cultural, recreational and educational programs, raising money to build and program the park, and helping to manage the park in the long term.

Friends is also a founding member of the High Line Network, which is a national movement to reclaim underutilized infrastructure for use as public space.

What is the relationship between Friends and the City?

Friends and the City have several formal and informal relationships. For example, Friends has a formal agreement with the City to provide programming and support services to the waterfront.

As a philanthropic partner, Friends has also formally committed to raise $110 million by 2024 to support park construction. Those funds are part of the City’s budget for the park. As the park is constructed and more events and activities are added, those agreements will expand to cover other maintenance and operation issues.

How can I learn more about Friends and the future of the waterfront?

Some things you have to see to believe! If you can’t find what you’re looking for on our website, come by our project showroom. We have an 12-foot model of the waterfront, design renderings, and lots of helpful staff members who can answer your questions.

Wednesdays – Sundays: Noon to 5 p.m.
1400 Western Ave, Seattle (just down the hill from Pike Place Market)

Can my organization/group hold an event at the Waterfront Park project showroom?

We hope so! We love welcoming community organizations to host events at the future park’s showroom, Waterfront Space. For more information, please contact [email protected], or stop by.

Is Friends of Waterfront Seattle a membership organization?

No, we are not member based. Friends welcomes everyone who wants to get involved. Learn more about how you can support the park’s success here.

What types of programs will be in the park?

Waterfront Park will host a range of cultural, educational, and recreational programs all year long. In addition to regular programs, the park will be a venue for large events like big concerts and seasonal festivals.

Will it be free to enjoy programs at Waterfront Park?

Yes! Waterfront Park is a public space with no entry fee, it hosts a series of free events and programs that are open to the public. On occasion, there are special private events in the park.

How can I host an event in Waterfront Park?

If you are looking to host an event of 25+ people, contact our Public Space Manager, Jordan Monez at [email protected] to apply for a permit and discuss our event-planning process.

How is Friends raising money for the park?

Friends 30-member board of directors is comprised of committed community leaders with an unmatched depth and breadth of experience in board leadership and resource development. This group of experienced leaders demonstrate their passion for Waterfront Park through their generous commitments of time and expertise. Each of them has also made a personally significant financial commitment to the project. The Friends board currently focuses the bulk of its time on raising principle and major gifts from individuals, foundations and corporations.

A community-wide project of this magnitude provides an opportunity for everyone to become involved. We welcome and appreciate gifts at any level and will be hosting a wide range of events over the next three years to engage the community in supporting Waterfront Park.

Why should I support the park?

Construction of Waterfront Park is a once-in-a-century opportunity to reconnect Seattle with the beautiful Salish Sea. The park will embrace our working waterfront while providing a leafy urban environment filled with lush gardens, peaceful nooks to enjoy views, arts, cultural and sporting events, and bike and walking paths. Equally important, the park will enhance Seattle’s nearshore ecosystem by filtering water run-off before it enters Elliott Bat, supporting the health and well-being of plants, animals, pollinators and humans – now and into the future.

Will there be donor recognition opportunities within the park?

Yes! Regardless of gift size, there will be opportunities to memorialize gifts within the park. Specific details are still being discussed. Final choices will be in keeping with other recognition opportunities at Pike Place Market and Market Front.

How does the Seattle Aquarium fit into the park? Do your capital campaigns conflict?

Friends of Waterfront Seattle and the Seattle Aquarium are engaged in collaborative and complimentary capital campaigns. The Aquarium’s new Ocean Pavilion will be a key component of Waterfront Park and its roof will form much of the Overlook Walk connecting Pike Place Market to the waterfront. When appropriate, Friends and the Aquarium work together to build proposals for people and organizations that want to support both projects.

Once the money has been raised and the park is open, how will it be funded going forward?

The voter-approved Metropolitan Park District will provide approximately $32 million every year in perpetuity. Friends capital campaign will include a $15 million transition/opportunity fund which will provide resources to ensure a smooth transition once the capital campaign is complete. Friends will continue to raise funds through annual campaigns to provide comprehensive, diverse programming and a safe, welcoming, fun-filled park environment.

Do you have volunteer opportunities?

Yes! Waterfront Park has both recurring volunteer opportunities and large volunteer events. To learn more about how to get involved, email [email protected].