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Pike Place Market: Oh, what you are about to see

Guest Opinion: Goodbye, parking lot. Hello, organics, more stalls, a spectacular tie to the waterfront and views that will make San Francisco jealous again.
An artist's sketch of the proposed development at the Market.

An artist's sketch of the proposed development at the Market. Hull Miller/Consultants report to Seattle City Council

The PC-1 North site, currently a parking lot, lies just west of the stalls at the north edge of Pike Place Market.

The PC-1 North site, currently a parking lot, lies just west of the stalls at the north edge of Pike Place Market. Consultants report to Seattle City Council

The Pike Place Public Market has been my beat, almost forever. By the time I typed my first newspaper story on the Market in the 1980s — yes, typed on a manual Underwood — the Market already was a Seattle institution. The oldest continually operating farmers’ market in the country was nearing its seventh decade of serving householders of Seattle.

The Pike Place Market had its beginnings in the summer of 1907 when local farmers pulled their trucks onto the cobblestones at Pike Place and sold produce directly to customers who were unhappy over the high price of onions. Here customers could bargain with the farmers over purchases and, eventually, come to enjoy the diverse city culture and indigenous cuisine of the multi-cultural Market.  

Where else might one go home with a grocery bag filled with fresh-caught crab, wild chanterelles, Scandinavian breads, hand-made sausages, Italian cheeses and picked-that-morning raspberries?

That was then. Now the Market, one of the city’s most visited tourist sites — host to 10 million visitors each yea r— is about to reach a new milestone.

Today the Seattle City Council’s Central Waterfront Committee will approve Council Bill 117699, an agreement to develop PC-1 North, the Market’s last under-developed historic site. The agreement, authorizing the execution of an MOU between the City and the Pike Place Market Preservation and Development Authority, makes up to $7 million available — over the next two years — to the Market for engineering, design and consultant services.

As envisioned by architects Miller Hull, the project will develop the neglected 0.75 acre site, long used as a surface parking lot, with a low-rise, multipurpose structure.  The new development will provide additional market parking, added retail space and several stories of low-income and artist housing.

The structure at PC1-North, designed to fit into its site with a low profile and preserve views toward the West, will create more room at the Market for booths and sellers, more room for the market’s fresh produce and organic specialties, all supplemented by increased parking and access.

But, more than that, the infill site will anchor a spectacular sloping walkway that will link the Market to the Waterfront, providing easy access for pedestrians between the two. The walkway will serve up matchless views of Elliott Bay all along the way.  There will be ample room on the promenade for public art and green outlooks.

The change will present the Market with a fantastic opportunity. But the opportunity is just as great or greater for Seattle’s emerging waterfront which will benefit from easy access to Seattle’s prime tourist attraction. Visitors are always told that, if they only have just one day to spend in Seattle, the Market should top the list.

Years ago, city planners from San Francisco visited the Pike Place Market and, because of its success, duplicated many of its features on the San Francisco redesigned waterfront. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. But, in this case, we have the original, the true heart of the city, poised to become even more the toast of the town.

Jean Godden is a member of the Seattle City Council and chair of its Libraries, Utilities, and Center Committee. She was a columnist and chronicler of Seattle life for many years at both Seattle daily newspapers. She has endorsed state Sen. Ed Murray for mayor. You can follow her on Twitter: @jean_godden.


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Comments:

Posted Tue, Feb 19, 12:52 p.m. Inappropriate

This is a 0.75 acre lot, there is no need for Seattle to pay 7 million dollars for consultants and design firms. Too much money is payed to consultants. It is ridiculous that such a small lot requires 7 million dollars for planning.

jhande

Posted Tue, Feb 19, 6:24 p.m. Inappropriate

The public has spoken on this before when the PDA and commercial developers tried to fill this area in with view blocking cinemas multi-plexes, restaurants and oh yeah senior housing and market parking. The public overwhelmingly slapped the developers back and clearly said they preferred a simple extension of Victor Steinbrueck Park at grade with limited public parking underneath. To my knowledge that has never been considered by the current developers and citizen advisory's. Why not?

chapala21

Posted Thu, Feb 21, 11:02 a.m. Inappropriate

"To my knowledge that (views?) has never been considered ..." Are you kidding? Have you read the DEIS for the so-called Alaska Way Seawall Project? Have you seen what that is all about, with money not being a minor concern?

And don't forget the view corridor from the market down to the Old Union dock - complete with fog and rain making machines so tourist can get soaked (in more than one way).

But, so long as there is room for pan-handling, drug dealing, and perhaps even needle exchanges why worry. Its all on your tax bill.

seebee

Posted Thu, Feb 21, 9:09 p.m. Inappropriate

$7,000,000 + ?????____ =Total cost of this project. Someone please supply the correct number. Thanks.

animalal

Posted Sun, Feb 24, 4:17 p.m. Inappropriate

This sounds like a scaled down version of what we are paying New Yorker James Corner to design for a world class Waterfront Seattle... and that's probably costing us a lot more than $7 million

Posted Sun, Feb 24, 5:41 p.m. Inappropriate

Jean, Detroit's Eastern Market has been continuously operating since 1891. Great scheme to better connect the market to the waterfront.

Posted Sun, Feb 24, 8:15 p.m. Inappropriate

The first sketch at the top of the page where the vendors food items are open to the breezes off Elliott Bay look delectable in this artists rendering of a 'perfect Seattle day' ... all 12 of them.

The rest of the year, rain, sleet and sometimes snow, will blow in and make a sopping mess of the displays.

Posted Mon, Feb 25, 9:11 a.m. Inappropriate

I love the IDEA and the possible integration with the waterfront.

However, I will feel awful if the design is some faux modern one. More and more things being added to this city are less and less "Seattle". Can this same design fit in other cities? If so I reject it, just as I reject the New Yorker (I am a New Yorker at heart) designed waterfront for its lack of cultural understanding. Only those designers conscious of culture and history should create such important pieces of city scape.

Upstate

Posted Fri, Mar 1, 1:51 p.m. Inappropriate

What exactly is meant by "Seattle" in this comment, and how would I recognize it?

Posted Sat, Mar 2, 12:35 p.m. Inappropriate

For starts: affordable, local, owner-operated

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