Archive for April, 2011

A Microscope on Pioneer Square, Again

Pioneer Square - looking south on First Avenue near Yesler / Photo: Historic Seattle

On Monday April 25, 2011, the Seattle City Council voted unanimously to approve the Livable South Downtown Ordinance, establishing significant zoning changes for Pioneer Square, Japantown, Chinatown/International District, Little Saigon and portions of SODO. This was the culmination of a multi-year planning effort by the City, led by the Department of Planning and Development (DPD). In addition to City staff and City Council members, particularly the Committee on the Built Environment (COBE), many others were part of the planning process including an advisory group, community stakeholders, residents, business owners, property owners, developers, neighborhood organizations, the Pioneer Square Preservation Board and International Special Review District Board. Moving forward, Seattle now has a workable model for a more livable and vibrant South Downtown that encompasses two local and national historic districts. The goals for more density, increased housing opportunities, and more economic vitality can hopefully be achieved by this plan and legislation, while respecting the historic built environment.

What grabbed attention in the last few months before the South Downtown legislation was passed was not the wonky land use planning process but the debate about building heights in Pioneer Square, Seattle’s first designated historic district and oldest commercial neighborhood. Early this year, preservationists advocated against an 11th hour request by a local developer and downtown business interests to increase heights in a large portion of the historic district to 180’. This request came in after public hearings were held about the Livable South Downtown Plan. This request also came in well after the Final Environmental Impact Statement was published in May 2008 and was not part of any environmental review or analysis. Preservationists became concerned about the future integrity of the district if out-of-scale development overwhelmed the character of the district’s core. Growth is happening around Pioneer Square and within the historic district at the south edge with more than 600 residential units being developed on the North Lot (the project, with a height limit of 240’, is breaking ground this summer.) Continue reading ‘A Microscope on Pioneer Square, Again’


Watch “The Greenest Building” Film

Screenshot from The Greenest Building website

Don’t miss this showing of a new film about conservation and the rehabilitation of old buildings and why it’s the “green” thing to do.  Check out “The Greenest Building” website for more info.

Airs this Sunday, April 24, at 2:00 pm on KCTS 9.

From the film’s website, “Over the next 20 years, one third of our nation’s existing building stock (over 82 billion square feet) will be demolished in order to replace seemingly inefficient buildings with energy efficient ‘green’ buildings. Is demolition on this scale really the best use of natural, social, and economic resources? Or, like urban renewal programs of the 1960’s, is it part of a well-intentioned planning strategy with devastating environmental and cultural consequences? ‘The Greenest Building’ provides a compelling argument for conservation, rehabilitation and adaptive reuse of our existing building stock as the single most effective strategy for reducing, reusing and recycling one of our most important consumer products – our buildings.”

Seattle Center Kicks Off One-Year Countdown to 50th Anniversary of the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair

Seattle Center Next Fifty Logo / Source: Seattle Center Foundation

From a news release from the Seattle Center Foundation:

Seattle, April 21 – Today begins the one-year countdown to The Next Fifty, six months of events and activities planned in 2012 at Seattle Center that celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, the legacy it left to the region, and the opportunities ahead during the next 50 years. Many elements of the celebration are already in place, and many more will take shape during the coming year.

Like the 1962 World’s Fair, the 50th anniversary focuses on the future. The Next Fifty draws attention to eight focus areas highlighting the Pacific Northwest’s leadership and innovation over the past half-century, as it compels participants to help create a vision for our future. Exhibitions, speaking forums, live entertainment, fun family activities, interactive experiences, competitions and community discussions will engage local and global audiences to debate our priorities, embrace our challenges and pursue possibilities for the region’s role in the world.

Seattle Center kicked off the countdown celebration by raising The Next Fifty flag atop the Space Needle this morning. Check out the new Next Fifty website for more info on the celebration and learn about the eight focus areas. Like The Next Fifty on Facebook. Follow The Next Fifty on Twitter. Continue reading ‘Seattle Center Kicks Off One-Year Countdown to 50th Anniversary of the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair’

Washington State Main Street Unveils New Logo

Our colleagues at the Washington State Main Street Program just unveiled a new logo! According to Sarah Hansen, Washington State Main Street Program Coordinator, “This new brand is the result of efforts to create a better visual identity for the program, representing Main Street communities across this diverse state.  We are thrilled to debut the logo in time for our RevitalizeWA Conference and would like to thank all those who helped with its development.  A special thanks goes to The Medium, the design firm in North Bend, who assisted us in creating an image that reflects Washington’s rich cultural and natural heritage while focusing on our historic downtowns.”

Whether you’re a veteran Main Street supporter or you want to know more about the program, we recommend attending the RevitalizeWA Conference in Walla Walla, May 11-13, 2011.  See what great efforts are being made statewide to revitalize our main streets. Visit the conference web page for more info and register online.

One Last Call to Action: Heritage Capital Projects Fund

We know we have asked a lot. But this is it – ONE LAST CALL TO ACTION!! 

The recently released State Senate budget only funded the Heritage Capital Projects Fund (HCPF) at $1.1 million. This amount would fund only nine projects and the other twenty, including Historic Seattle’s Washington Hall,  were not funded. We last provided a MAin2 update on this roller coaster of a process on April 6 reporting that the House provided $10 million in its capital budget for HCPF. Well, there’s a big difference between $1.1 and $10 million. Here’s what we need the Historic Seattle supporters and constituents to do as soon as possible:


“Thank you very much for the $10 million full funding of the Heritage Capital Projects Fund (HCPF) in the House budget. As you know, the Senate budget only funded $1.1 million.  I am writing to ask you to please retain the full funding in the House budget and ask your Senate counterpart to support the HCPF.”


“Thank you for partially funding the Heritage Capital Projects Fund. Please fund the HCPF at the same level as the House – the full $10 million.  Would you contact Senator Kilmer with the message that this is a high priority for your district?”


  • Subject Line:  Your Constituent Supports Heritage Capital Projects Fun
  • Keep your message short.
  • Personalize your message. They will likely NOT read mass emails that all look the same.
  • Calls are not encouraged. Staff are getting swamped and can’t respond and have asked us to please email!


Find out how to contact your state legislators here.

Continue reading ‘One Last Call to Action: Heritage Capital Projects Fund’

Free Lectures on Seattle’s Architectural History, April 9 and 16


Pioneer Square ca 1900 / Photo: UW Special Collections, UW8571

University of Washington Professor Jeffrey Karl Ochsner presents two lectures on Seattle’s architectural history on Saturday April 9 and Saturday April 16 at the Central Library in downtown Seattle (1 to 3 pm both days).

The two lectures will cover the history of Seattle’s architecture from 1880 to the present. Ochsner will discuss urban development, building types, stylistic directions and the major architects who shaped the architecture of the city and region. Each lecture will last approximately 90 minutes to allow time for questions from the audience.

For more details, visit the Seattle Public Library’s website. The lectures have been very popular in the past so be sure to get there early to grab a seat. The lecture series is co-sponsored by the Seattle Architecture Foundation.

URGENT ACTION NEEDED to Support the Heritage Capital Projects Fund

In a February 3, 2011 blog post, MAin2 alerted readers to the need to support the Heritage Capital Projects Fund (HCPF). State law allows up to $10 million of state bond money to be appropriated for capital projects through the Fund each biennium. Funding for these projects has been appropriated without fail since 1997. This year, however, the Governor’s proposed budget eliminated the Heritage Capital Projects Fund.

The 29 HCPF awardees and supporters have been working hard during this legislative session to urge legislators to restore the fund. The great news is the House included the HCPF to be funded at $10 million in its capital budget! We are thrilled with this progress but the work is not done.

We need your help NOW to ensure this level of funding from the Senate. The Senate is finalizing the budget as we speak.  It is URGENT that your Senators hear how important it is to your community that their budget fully funds the HCPF. Find your legislators’ contact information on this web page.

NOW is the time to act.  In the next 24 hours, please contact your Senators by email or phone to send these TWO simple messages:

1)      Please fund the HCPF at the same level as the House – the full $10 million; and

2)      Ask them to contact Senator Kilmer with the message that this is a high priority for their district (Senator Kilmer is Vice-chair and lead on putting together the Capital budget).

Some tips on how to MOST effectively contact your Senators during this time-sensitive period:

  • Your email “Subject” line should indicate that you are a constituent from their district;
  • Be sure to personalize in some way your email (e.g. mention your project if you are an awardee or there is a project in your community); and
  • Best method is to email your Senator; the second best method is to call his/her legislative aide directly.  If you leave a message, be sure to indicate that you are a constituent!

THIS IS THE FINAL STRETCH!  Together, we’ve accomplished more than many thought was possible.  Your emails/calls WILL make a difference.  Please make contact with your Senators in the next 24 hours.  Continue reading ‘URGENT ACTION NEEDED to Support the Heritage Capital Projects Fund’

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The writers who post entries on MAin2 represent various views and opinions. The blog posts do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Historic Seattle.