Friends of the Market has been an education and advocacy organization for over 50 years. Since 1964, it has singly, or with allies, advocated for or opposed public policies affecting Pike Place Market and fought for historic preservation and renewal in downtown Seattle and the Market.
Current plans for improvement of the Central Waterfront, replacement of Alaskan Way Viaduct, and the Market’s own plans to create MarketFront on the Desimone/Western Avenue parking lot, require increased vigilance and attention as they will affect the entire Pike Place Market Historic District.
Market Waterfront Entrance Now Called MarketFront
The Friends have resolved to support Pike Place Market Preservation and Development Authority (PDA) and Market Foundation in their planning and execution of the new elements of MarketFront. This proposed Market expansion will increase low-income and workforce housing, add merchants and open-selling space for farmers and craft vendors, provide new restaurant space, and, best of all, create a new pathway to and from the waterfront which includes public plazas and “belvederes” for the Market.
The Market Foundation has a major fundraising challenge underway to raise millions of dollars for MarketFront. The City of Seattle deeded the .75 acre parking lot site to the Market PDA to develop and manage. At the end of 2014, planning was 90% complete.
An important element of the plan is the connection of MarketFront to Victor Steinbrueck Park. There is concern with the adjacent parking garage entrance ramp off Western Avenue. Most important is a respectful treatment of the connection to the park’s southeast corner. This corner holds historic and religious meaning to Native Americans, particularly Duwamish tribal members. The Friends with allies such as landscape architect Rich Haag, Victor Steinbruek’s co-designer of the park, and Friends of Steinbrueck Park are involved in helping to resolve design concerns.
Central Waterfront Committee
In anticipation of the 2016 demolition of the Alaskan Way Viaduct and replacement of the Elliott Bay Seawall, a community-wide committee was established in 2012 to guide the creation of a world-class Seattle waterfront.
The Central Waterfront Committee, co-chaired by former Mayor Charles Royer and civic volunteer Maggie Walker, is made up of diverse interests that includes Peter Steinbrueck, (a Friend of the Market), James Corner, (Corner-Field Associates, designers of New York City’s High Line Park), representatives of waterfront businesses, City of Seattle, Washington State Department of Transportation, and other affected constituents. Friends of the Market is included on the list of interested parties.
One of the challenges during the demolition of the Alaskan Way Viaduct is the significant impact on traffic from the waterfront to the north end of the Market. Friends is monitoring these infrastructure changes and will vigilantly protect the Market’s best interests.
Victor Steinbrueck Park
Market Park is a special place. In 1981, it was designed by Victor Steinbrueck and acclaimed Seattle landscape architect Rich Haag. By 1986, it was incorporated into the Market Historical District and renamed to honor Victor’s leadership in preserving the Market. It is now the most visited park in downtown Seattle because of its magnificent views.
By passage of a 2014 ballot initiative, the Seattle Parks Department is now under the umbrella of a new Seattle Metropolitan Parks District. Few people know what this means for day-to-day operations of Steinbrueck Park because the Market Historical Commission has joint jurisdiction. Friends of the Market is actively working to clarify the new legislation.
Currently, Seattle Parks and Recreation has over a million dollars earmarked for changes to the park when the new MarketFront entrance is completed. Over the years, Friends has fought to maintain and preserve the original vision of the park and will continue to do so during this period.