Ever wondered what adding opportunities for cars to mingle with pedestrians and open space for drunken mobs to congregate would do for Belltown? Wonder no longer. The first phase of Bell Street Park, between First and Second Avenues, opened to pedestrians today. The 56,000 square-foot park boasts such features as vehicle lanes not separated from pedestrians by curbs ("continuous level pavement" offering a chance to "share the space," according to Seattle Parks and Recreation) and new rain gardens for weekend carousers to drive into.
The park will feature enhanced pedestrian-friendly LED lighting and is part of a plan to reduce crime and attract visitors seeking a safe and vibrant corridor through Belltown. The Park will "change a harsh urban environment into an energized public gathering space that will vastly increase the livability of the neighborhood," according to a June 27, 2013 Seattle Times opinion piece by Brad Kahn, board chairman of the Seattle Parks Foundation. Some of those already living in Belltown, which as of 2008 was Seattle's most densely populated neighborhood, may be left wondering how much more livable it can get.
Perhaps Kahn has in mind the stroller-and-diaper-bag set, which has mostly forsaken the area. Although the park does not have kid-oriented features, the open space should be attractive to families.
For those interested in living next to the park, the new and fortuitously-addressed 206 Bell apartments at Second Avenue and Bell Street are probably the best bet. A block west, Volta offers a more upscale opportunity to overlook the park. For now, Local 360 is the restaurant best located to take advantage of the new open space.
The first phase of the park, projected to be complete by the second week of June when construction began in March, was delayed by a concrete pour that did not meet standards and had to be torn up and redone. As of today, workers had taken down construction fencing and finished spreading bark in the planting areas.
· Bell Street Park Project Will Create New Belltown Public Space [Curbed Seattle]
· Belltown streets fill as the bars are closing [Seattle Times]
· Which candidate for mayor will step up and fund city parks? [Seattle Times]