Future loss of parking challenging Pike Place Market

Jun 26, 2012

The complete removal of Seattle’s Alaskan Way Viaduct is years away. The tunnel replacing it won’t open till 2015.

But this summer marks a crucial moment for the iconic Pike Place Market as the waterfront is redeveloped.

The Pike Place Market is located just a block west of the Alaskan Way Viaduct. You might think noise and dust and traffic during demolition and tunneling would post the biggest threat to the historic tourist attraction.

In fact, the main concern right now is parking: in particular, two lots beneath the viaduct, at Blanchard and Lenora streets.

“Both of those parking lots disappear and don’t come back when the Viaduct comes down,” says  Ben Franz-Knight, Executive Director of the Market.

He says the 220 spaces that will be lost are used by small artisans and farmers who need to bring their delivery vehicles to the market. So its governing board is looking at several proposals to replace the parking by expanding the garage and pedestrian bridge that sits between the market and the water.

Viaduct deadline

The building is known as PC-1 and it's the last developable parcel in the historic market district. Franz-Knight says it’s a great re-development opportunity, to carry out the last major piece of the urban renewal plan that was established in 1974.

“So really activating that connection between the market and the waterfront, which is critical to the continued success of the market, as well as really welcoming a new central waterfront.”

He says they also plan to add much-needed storage for merchants as well as new retail space and subsidized housing. The proposals could cost as much as $70 million, and some are taller than what’s there now.

A key concern is preserving views while adding amenities. Franz-Knight says there's potential to increase views in some areas, but there may be tradeoffs.

“Where there are views that are impacted, we’re looking at what’s the potential gain? Could we increase the amount of low-income housing we have in the market? Could we bring those views out, closer to the waterfront and have wider vistas? Those are all the conversations that we’re having in the market community and also with the waterfront design team.”

In about a month, they expect to have a preferred design option. The plan is to get new parking in place before the viaduct comes down.

The Pike Place Market Preservation and Development Authority's Council meets Thursday afternoon to consider designs and priorities for the redevelopment of the market parking garage. The public is encouraged to attend. 

You can see a presentation on the design options currently in discussion by clicking here.