SEATTLE – Despite the looks of what's happening right outside the front door, Bob Donegan is emphatic that Ivar's will be open in a couple weeks.
"As you can see it doesn't look like we're anywhere near close," he said inside the restaurant bustling with construction workers too, "but we will be open on July 1."
To the layperson, it looks like there's still a giant pit lining the businesses on the central piers on Seattle's waterfront. City crews are in in the middle of a three-year, $330 million construction project to replace the aging Elliott Bay Seawall that protects the city.
Work near Ivar's on Pier 54 will temporarily stop in the next couple weeks, allowing more than a dozen businesses that closed last fall to reopen for the summer.
"We had our crew that we sent to other restaurants over the last year come back this week to begin training in the new restaurant," Donegan said. "As people who worked with us 20, 30 and 40 years came back into the pier, some of them had tears in their eyes. It's an emotional thing for us."
The Seattle Department of Transportation said there's been certain work, pieces of the project, that have gone slower than expected but overall, the massive project is not delayed and should be finished on schedule next year.
"We expected the full promenade with the glass sidewalk and the salmon waterway below it to be done," Donegan said. "It won't be done until next year. But the city has stopped construction as it promised it would so that we can operate in the summer."
Jessica Murphy, who works for SDOT and is the project manager for the seawall, said there will be more pedestrian space available than ever before.
"This area adjacent to Waterfront Park and Pier 57 ... there will be vehicles and parking," she said. "South of that will be a wide pedestrian promenade which will actually be almost like a mini demonstration project for the future waterfront when we have a lot more pedestrian space."
Not all work stops this summer. Crews will still be working on the area south of Madison, adjacent to the fire station and Colman Dock. That work just started in January and will continue through 2016.
What the city and businesses that will soon reopen will need to discuss is what happens when work resumes there in October or November.
"The city at this point has no plans to close the businesses again," Murphy said Thursday. "At this point we feel like we can maintain the access to those businesses when we come back in the fall. And if for some reason it doesn't make financial sense to do so, we'll look at other options."
Businesses closed nine months ago so crews could work faster and the city agreed to pay as much as $15 million for losses like mortgage and insurance. Estimates projected that closures on Piers 54 through 57 could result in lost revenues of approximately $11.1 to $18.6 million for those businesses.
The old seawall structure consisted of three types of walls built between 1911 and 1936.
The following is a list of reopening waterfront merchants:
Ivar's Fish Bar
Ivar's Acres of Clams
Ye Old Curiosity Shop
Let's Go Sailing
Pier 55 T shirt shop
Pier 55 candy shop
Argosy Cruises and Tillicum Village
Elliott's oyster cafe
Seattle Sourdough Bakery