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Construction on Pioneer Square pedestrian improvement project to begin in January

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(The Center Square) – The next phase of Seattle’s waterfront improvement project is slated to begin next month after delays to the start of construction.

Seattle’s Office of the Waterfront and Civic Projects awarded a $12.6 million contract to Gary Merlino Construction to start construction on the Pioneer Square East-West Pedestrian Improvements project as early as Jan. 2, 2024.

The project intends to make the Pioneer Square district more accessible for pedestrians to travel between downtown Seattle and the Waterfront Park.

Construction at South King, South Main and South Washington streets, and Yesler Way in Pioneer Square was originally set to begin in the fall. The Center Square reached out to Waterfront Seattle regarding why construction was pushed back, but did not receive a response by the time of publication.

According to a press release from the Office of the Waterfront and Civic Projects, construction is planned to be completed in late 2024. The project will be constructed in phases to help minimize impacts to the Pioneer Square neighborhood.

The $12.6 million stems from a local improvement district tax, in which property owners within the Seattle Waterfront district area contribute to a portion of the area’s improvement costs. The property owners’ portion of the funds are based on the “special benefit” they receive from those improvements.

The tax is an annual assessment payment based on a $1,000 assessment paid over 20 years at a 3.8% interest rate. According to the Waterfront Seattle website, the total payment from 2022 through 2041 would be approximately $1,586 based on a $1,000 annual assessment for a property owner within the district.

Management of the new waterfront park is being led by Friends of Waterfront Seattle, a nonprofit organization that will be responsible for park operations, fundraising, programming, and stewardship of the park. The organization is also leading a $170 million campaign to contribute to the construction, activation and long-term care of the park.

“The projects and improvements made today create the downtown of the future – a Seattle that makes residents proud and attracts visitors around the world,” Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell said in a statement. “As Seattle continues to grow, projects like the Pioneer Square East-West Pedestrian improvements will fuel our vision of seamless connections between our waterfront and downtown.”

The overall waterfront park project is set to open in 2025. It is a 20-acre linear park along the waterfront that extends from the SODO District to Belltown and extends to the east connecting the waterfront into the downtown core.

The original projected timeline had construction expected to finish in late 2023. However, that was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a lack of concrete delivery availability between December 2021 and April 2022 as a result of a concrete strike in King County.

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