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Does the Elevated Park Stand a Chance Against Developers?

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When it was announced that the Alaskan Way Viaduct would finally be coming down and be replaced with a tunnel, there was much rejoicing around Seattle. Okay, that may not be true, but most folks seemed to agree that the Viaduct needed to go before The Big One got rid of it for us. So it came as a bit of surprise when we first heard about the idea to turn a chunk of the viaduct into an elevated park not unlike Manhattan's High Line. It sounded like the the kind of thing that might disappear as soon as it was announced. And yet, here we are a year later getting ready to vote on the proposal on the next November ballot. People like Tom Douglas have thrown support behind the project but there's one group of individuals with a vested financial interest in seeing the viaduct go bye-bye who will likely to lobbying against it: Downtown Seattle's developers.

Goodman Real Estate CEO & President George Petrie said "I think it's crazy" of the ballot initiative that would impact the seven-story apartment building his company is working on at 80 S. Main Street.

Mack Urban Vice President Martha Barkman shared the same idea when discussing the 16-story apartment project they have planned along Alaskan Way. "For our project – and I'm sure everyone on the east side of Alaskan Way – retention of the viaduct would devastate our ability to provide decent pedestrian access, parking or any retail along Alaskan Way."

Earlier this week we noted the story about what happened when a developer in Pioneer Square got pushback regarding their project at a site they'd paid millions for. That project is moving forward despite a near-unanimous vote against it by the Preservation Board.

As PSBJ points out, expect these and other developers to lead the financial fight against Initiative 123. There are some good ideas behind the viaduct park but good ideas might not be enough to win that kind of fight. A quick look around South Lake Union, Denny Triangle and Downtown could tell you that.
· Seattle real estate developers not amused by elevated waterfront park plan [PSBJ]
· 'Park My Viaduct' Group Wants to Bring Plan to Voters [CS]
· How About Turning The Viaduct Into A Public Park? [CS]
· Pioneer Square Mixed-User Gets Go-Ahead Despite Preservation Board Rejection [CS]