SEATTLE — A sunny Sunday brought crowds of people to Pier 62, a portion of Waterfront Park and a piece of the massive Waterfront Seattle redevelopment project. Using funding from the city, state, a local improvement district tax and philanthropic donations, the $756 million project is still on track for a 2024 finish, according to Friends of Waterfront Seattle Executive Director Thatcher Bailey.
"We got a little bit behind schedule because of the concrete strike but ideally the whole thing will be ready for use by the public, the whole park by the end of 2024," Bailey said.
The project includes the construction of a park promenade along the water, a new surface street along Alaskan Way, an elevated connector from Pike Place Market to the waterfront, and better east-west connects between downtown and Elliot Bay. These efforts aim to connect neighborhoods on the waterfront, increasing walkability and boosting downtown business.
"How do you kind of reconnect all of downtown to the Waterfront? How do you bring us back to the nature that so defines life in Seattle? How do you reconnect us to the simple fact of having these views, places to touch and see the water, be near the water?" Bailey explained. "And you can look at the cityscape there and see ways in which you're seeing the city that were never visible before when the viaduct was there."
The project began 13 years ago, long before the pandemic. Bailey says now, more than ever, foot traffic and connection through parks and programming will make a difference.
"With the viaduct in place, a lot of people never even thought about going to the waterfront," Bailey said. "People would come here but they tended to be cruise ship visitors, tourists, people from out of town- and often when people from Seattle thought about going to the water, this wasn't where they were going. The extent to which this park is a success is the extent to which people around the city realize this is a place to come and visit."
Betty Benveniste is one local who's already started to frequent the area, enjoying the views and excited for what's next.
"Every time we drive by here I say, look at how many people are down here! I don't remember it being that much- it's amazing," Benveniste said. "Even when it's raining- the umbrellas and everything- it's amazing."