Seattle Waterfront Project to connect Pioneer Square with $12.6M in improvements



(The Center Square) – The $739 million project to construct Seattle’s new Waterfront continues with a new $12.6 million contract ​​to Gary Merlino Construction to build pedestrian improvements to portions of Pioneer Square.

The construction at South King, South Main and South Washington streets, and Yesler Way in Pioneer Square will begin in the fall and is expected to be completed in late 2024.

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 assessment for a property owner within the district.

The Center Square previously reported on King County Superior Court Judge Matt Williams ruling the district tax to be “arbitrary and capricious.” Williams ordered the Seattle to refund taxes paid by plaintiffs that challenged the Local Improvement District tax.

As part of the latest phase of the Waterfront project, the design improvements in Pioneer Square include curbless street designs to ease local traffic, wider sidewalks to accommodate small cafes and activities, and added greenery.

The project design will also implement shorter street crossings. South Washington and South Main streets will turn into one-way streets to reduce vehicle traffic.

“We are truly excited to create pedestrian improvements that will connect Seattle’s historic Pioneer Square neighborhood to our new waterfront, which we expect will contribute towards the ongoing revitalization of the city’s downtown area,” Director of the Office of the Waterfront and Civic Projects Angela Brady said in a news release.

The Waterfront Seattle project is anticipated to finish in 2025. 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, according to Waterfront Seattle.

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