Construction of Seattle’s new waterfront continues just beyond our doorstep at The Emerald. We’re excited to celebrate major milestones and look forward to continued future progress. The completion of the Alaskan Way Viaduct program will create nine acres of revitalized open public space adjacent to the downtown Seattle waterfront. With the Alaskan Way Viaduct removal complete, the city of Seattle will continue to construct a park promenade along the water, build a new surface street along Alaskan Way, rebuild Piers, build an elevated connection from Pike Place Market to the waterfront, and improve east-west connections between downtown and Elliott Bay. The first piece of the park — Pier 62 — is now open while the rest of the park is being built. Waterfront Park completion is set for 2025. Pier 62 is the first piece of the future Waterfront Park to open. Just north of the Seattle Aquarium, Pier 62 is a flexible, open space that will adapt to accommodate a wide range of cultural, recreational, and educational activities and events.
Berni Bo, a retired musician who lived in Seattle years ago and now resides near Sequim, was visiting the waterfront on a Saturday in September. She came to ride the Great Wheel and attend a show after dinner at Ivar’s. “The viaduct being gone was like holy wow,” Bo said. “It’s absolutely amazing. Now the viaduct’s gone and (the waterfront) is just an extension of Seattle.”
Waterfront Park is a 20-acre linear public park along Seattle’s downtown central shoreline designed to create places for people to come together and enjoy the natural beauty of the Puget Sound region and the company of one another. Waterfront Park consists of a garden-filled pedestrian promenade, boardwalk, and bike path that tie together open public spaces such as action-packed piers, viewpoints, a habitat beach, and stunning elevated pedestrian connection into downtown.
“If we do it right — and we’re on the path to do it right — I’m not convinced it won’t be the icon of the city of Seattle,” former Gov. Chris Gregoire, the head of Challenge Seattle, said at a recent Business Journal event.
Downtown’s waterfront transformation entered a new chapter recently with this massive upgrade to our state’s busiest ferry terminal. The new Washington State Ferries flagship ferry terminal recently opened on the Seattle waterfront. Passengers on the two busiest routes to Bremerton and Bainbridge Island will now have 20,000 square feet of space to spread out as they await the ferry to at the Seattle Multimodal Terminal at Colman Dock. Washington State Ferries is replacing the aging Colman Dock in Seattle to maintain its critical role as a regional multimodal transportation hub. The renovation of Colman Dock rebuilds a key piece of transportation infrastructure connecting downtown to communities around the Puget Sound. The new passenger building is a vast improvement over the old one. It fully faces the water, with 4,230 square feet of windows looking onto Elliott Bay and the city. Clerestory windows above bathe the space in natural light. This is a key construction milestone on the way to completing the full Colman Dock Project in Spring 2023. Stay updated with rider alerts for information on additional exit closures. More information can be found on the Washington State Department of Transportation’s website.
The Union Street Pedestrian Bridge has opened, improving access between the Waterfront and downtown Seattle. The project features a 95-foot-long walkway, a stairway, and an elevator with panels that provide visibility and light. Take a peek at what the Union Street Pedestrian Bridge looks like at night. The bridge features two permanent public artworks by Seattle artist Norie Sato, connecting Western Ave to Alaskan Way. Plus, it’ll improve accessibility between downtown and the waterfront with the new public elevator. The Seattle Times covers the opening of the bridge in Seattle’s downtown waterfront that guides pedestrians under a steel archway sculpture resembling a fern.
Overlook Walk is at the center of improvements from Pier 62 up to Pike Place Market and east along to Seattle’s urban core, including Pike and Pine streets. When complete, Overlook Walk will have a sloping pedestrian path leading from Pike Place Market to Seattle’s waterfront, mere minutes from The Emerald’s front door in the center of downtown Seattle. It fulfills the desire for an easily accessible way to the waterfront. Overlook Walk is going up next to other key projects: the Seattle Aquarium’s long-planned, Ocean Pavilion, and the relocation of Alaskan Way plus the new two-way street, Elliott Way.
Seattle Aquarium envisions that Seattle will be reconnected to the ecosystem of the Pacific Ocean through its new Ocean Pavilion – an investment that will help connect downtown, Pike Place Market and the waterfront as a gathering place for all. This major new exhibit will be an extension of the existing Seattle Aquarium on Piers 59 and 60. It will provide several critical public features such as a new public elevator and a publicly-accessible rooftop park that will connect to the Overlook Walk.
Ocean Pavilion is a small but complex building — just 48,000 square feet but with 4 million pounds of rebar, or more than what goes into a typical downtown high-rise, according to Stuart Kibbee of Turner Construction Co., the project general contractor. Scheduled to open in the summer of 2024, Ocean Pavilion is the biggest thing to happen at the aquarium since its founding 45 years ago. The conservation and education facility will anchor what the society says will be the “world’s first climate-positive aquarium campus” with fossil-fuel-free operations.
The 20-acre linear Waterfront Park will run from Pioneer Square to Belltown. Waterfront Park will feature diverse species of trees, shrubs, and grasses from five upland habitat plant communities, and increase the waterfront tree canopy sixfold, from 183 trees to 844 trees. It will also feature a two-mile bike path, a boardwalk, a promenade, playgrounds, artwork, and many improved east-west connections.
“It will be our new front porch,” said Joy Shigaki, a fourth-generation Seattleite and the new president and CEO of Friends of Waterfront Seattle, the city’s nonprofit philanthropic partner on the waterfront redevelopment.
Welcome to Waterfront Seattle. Want more details about Seattle’s new waterfront destination at The Emerald’s doorstep? Check out Puget Sound Business Journal’s deep dive into the exciting revitalization efforts along the waterfront and why the final transformation could be iconic for the city. For details on Waterfront Park’s project delivery and construction information, visit waterfrontseattle.org.
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