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Saturday, October 6, 2012

We Really Showed Paul Allen

Posted by on Sat, Oct 6, 2012 at 1:46 PM

southlakeunion.JPG

Good thing we blocked construction of the Seattle Commons, huh? As anti-Commons campaigners assured us in the mid-1990s, building a 70+ acre park in South Lake Union would've been a big giveaway to Paul Allen and other developers. Voting down the Commons—twice—not only assured the preservation of low-income housing in South Lake Union and saved light industry that neighborhood, it also made sure that developers like Paul Allen couldn't make money off that neighborhood. I mean, man, just think of all the money Allen would've made if there was a park down there, huh? There would probably be two or three Tom Douglas restaurants in South Lake Union now if we'd built the commons.

But, hey, we really showed Paul Allen.* Good work, gang!

·························

* The person at most fault for the failure of the Seattle Commons is Paul Allen. The billionaire co-founder of Microsoft asked voters to approve $250 million in new taxes to build the park. During the second Commons campaign Allen made $1 billion during a stock rally on a single day. If Allen had any sense—or any decent advisors around him—he would've cashed out a quarter of that day's haul and given the city the $250 million and asked the mayor to name the park after his mother. Allen Park would've been his legacy.

That didn't happen, of course, because Allen is more carny than Carnegie. The Experience Music Project and Totally Awesome Science Fiction Stuff and Museum—what Allen thinks of as his legacy—will be a Taco Time fifteen minutes after he dies.

And, yes, Allen would've benefited from the construction of the Seattle Commons. But he was going to be benefit—he was going to make money—one way or another.

 

Comments (79) RSS

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Cato the Younger Younger 1
Dan...I'm still pissed about the commons failing TWO FUCKING TIMES!!!! But not a fucking pissed as I am about the monorail failing.

You just ruined my day.
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on October 6, 2012 at 1:52 PM · Report this
Megan 2
I think you mean he is more canny than Carnegie. Though the image of Allen as a freakish carny did give me a laugh.
Posted by Megan on October 6, 2012 at 1:52 PM · Report this
TVDinner 3
I might patronize that Taco Time.
Posted by TVDinner http:// on October 6, 2012 at 2:05 PM · Report this
4
Other issues with the Seattle Commons effort:
1) The Seattle Times was bought off with a gift that allowed them to build over a street that separated two of their buildings (offices and printing press, as I recall). But they were bought off too early, and so didn't stay bought.
2) The same time people were being asked to approve the Seattle Commons, they were being asked to approve a new stadium. The Times cared far more about the stadium (sports sections sell newspapers and sell ads), and so pushed much harder for the latter. This is also true of the professional political consultants - I was volunteering on the Norm Rice For Governor campaign, and I recall the palpable excitement among the pros after Norm lost the primary and all of them immediately got to decamp to go work for those sweet, sweet stadium dollars. There was no comparable institutional, professional effort behind the Commons.
Posted by Warren Terra on October 6, 2012 at 2:09 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 5
"The Experience Music Project and Totally Awesome Science Fiction Stuff and Museum—what Allen thinks of as his legacy—will be a Taco Time fifteen minutes after he dies."

A + + +
Posted by Matt from Denver on October 6, 2012 at 2:12 PM · Report this
6
Yes, because the man Paul Allen was in the 90s would never have fucked over Seattle of the 90s if we'd let him.

As I approach 48 only my hindsight remains 20/20.
Posted by gloomy gus on October 6, 2012 at 2:13 PM · Report this
7
I think about this every time I work down in the south lake union area. We were told that yuppie condos and midrise office buildings would dominate the area around the park if we let it be built. Gosh! We really showed them! Now we have nothing but yuppie condos in mid rise office buildings in South Lake Union, but no giant park in the middle of it. Way to go Seattle!
Posted by el ganador on October 6, 2012 at 2:20 PM · Report this
8
Don't yell at me, I wasn't here in the mid nineties, depending on which year I lived in Oakland, Guam, Saipan, Jacksonville, Brooklyn, or Mombassa. Had I been here I would have voted for it, and rent control, and against gentrification, but I would have lost.

AS a consolation prize you'll get a bike trail that destroys jobs in Ballard, and an arena that destroys jobs in the port.

But don't worry, if rmoney gets elected he'll end funding for public transportation and public schools, so that Paris Hilton can get a huge tax break, and buy lots of hand-bags, and that'll make you all rich...
Don't yell at me, I wasn't here in the mid nineties, depending on which year I lived in Oakland, Guam, Saipan, Jacksonville, Brooklyn, or Mombassa. Had I been here I would have voted for it, and rent control, and against gentrification, but I would have lost.

AS a consolation prize you'll get a bike trail that destroys jobs in Ballard, and an arena that destroys jobs in the port.

But don't worry, if rmoney gets elected he'll end funding for public transportation and public schools, so that Paris Hilton can get a huge tax break, and buy lots of hand-bags, and that'll make you all rich...
Posted by Merchant Seaman on October 6, 2012 at 2:25 PM · Report this
9
Oh and P.S. Its not really mostly Paul Allen's fault, its the fault of the people who consistently vote down an income tax
Posted by Merchant Seaman on October 6, 2012 at 2:34 PM · Report this
10
Seems the Stranger played a large role in the anti-Commons effort that would have probably passed narrowly but for the fear-mongering, anti-development screaming from it's pages. Ironically, the owner of the 5 Point was also loudly anti-Commons.

We fucked up by not building the Commons. Would have been nice to have a central downtown park there right about now...
Posted by Meinert on October 6, 2012 at 2:35 PM · Report this
GlennFleishman 11
The Commons was bullshit. It would have been ringed with private condominiums and patrolled by private security paid for from funds. Instead, we have an incredibly vibrant part of town that's improved density for living and work, and caused Seattle to be a place that large companies want to put their workforces!

The updates to South Lake Union make it much more usable as a park. The streetcar and its upcoming extension make the town more livable. Honestly, a "central park" that was central to nothing and completely surrounded by private owners that took a chunk out of the light industrial/commercial district of Seattle? Terrible idea.

Allen _should_ make huge amounts of money. He invested, built, cajoled, reworked. He deserves credit for the transformation of South Lake Union.
Posted by GlennFleishman http://blog.glennf.com/ on October 6, 2012 at 2:36 PM · Report this
12
I was for the Commons, the dumb fucks doing news for us then were against it. I wrote in favor, stumped for it.

But the dumb fucks at the paper -- long gone, not missed -- prevailed and we urged a no vote. Ask Keck next time you see him: his refusal to overrule the dumb fucks is a huge regret. If the Stranger had been for the Commons, aggressively, it's possible it would've passed.

Oh, well.
Posted by Dan Savage on October 6, 2012 at 2:41 PM · Report this
Cascadian Bacon 13
Yea sucks to have a Billion dollars pumped into the local economy by one of the regions largest employers.
Posted by Cascadian Bacon on October 6, 2012 at 2:45 PM · Report this
w7ngman 14
Um. There is a giant park in SLU. It's right on the water where it belongs. And last I checked there aren't that many condos in SLU.
Posted by w7ngman http://userscripts.org/users/89370 on October 6, 2012 at 2:45 PM · Report this
15
Hey w7ngman, the giant park you're talking about isn't that giant and it would've been connected to the much larger park that reached into downtown. And true there may not be condos, but there are a ton of apartments that will go condo as soon as the market recovers.
Posted by el ganador on October 6, 2012 at 2:53 PM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 16
Someday Seattle might make a reasonable suburb thanks to Paul and John.

Until then I'll stick to Reds Wine bar at Kent Station!
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://www.you-read-it-here-first.com on October 6, 2012 at 3:01 PM · Report this
17
Few Seattle issues get me going like the failed Seattle Commons.

I don't blame Paul Allen, either. This one is all on Seattle voters.
Posted by karion on October 6, 2012 at 3:15 PM · Report this
18
Fuckwit Matthew Fox, tractor load of lies- There is lots of regret to spread around- every time I drive by....
Posted by Headlikeahole on October 6, 2012 at 3:51 PM · Report this
MrBaker 19
@4, re 2, The Seattle Times does not give a shit about sports stadiums, just who owns them. Blethen & the Mariners owners don't give a rats ass about Paul Allen, Chris Hansen, stadiums or arenas, but WHO gains from the development.

The same Blethen & Mariners folks will do everything they can to prevent somebody else from developing SoDo, as they did with SLU.
Posted by MrBaker http://manywordsforrain.blogspot.com/ on October 6, 2012 at 3:59 PM · Report this
COMTE 20
To all you people complaining that, if built, the Seattle Commons would have just been surrounded by condos and office towers - um, have you actually ever BEEN to another large city with a *cough* Central Park *cough*? Guess what they're mostly surrounded by?

And of course, what we have today - SLU full of apartment/condos & office towers - is so much BETTER than it would have been, seeing as there's no disgusting green space separating them, right?
Posted by COMTE http://www.chriscomte.com on October 6, 2012 at 4:09 PM · Report this
Tiffany 21
I remember friends of mine arguing against the Commons because they thought Re-Bar would be torn down. I like Re-Bar and all, but sheesh...
Posted by Tiffany http://www.facebook.com/tiffany98122 on October 6, 2012 at 4:14 PM · Report this
Last of the Time Lords 22
@21, and wasn't Timberline another bar that was going to be killed off as well?
Posted by Last of the Time Lords on October 6, 2012 at 4:18 PM · Report this
23
@ 1 Why would the monorail be more effective than lightrail?
Posted by Seattle14 on October 6, 2012 at 4:53 PM · Report this
24
Plus Allen saved the Seahawks from moving to LA.
Posted by Seattle14 on October 6, 2012 at 4:57 PM · Report this
Daddy Love 25
I get it though---if Paul Allen had one-hundredth the savvy of Chris Hansen I'd be sleeping on a park bench in the Commons today.
Posted by Daddy Love on October 6, 2012 at 4:59 PM · Report this
Daddy Love 26
And by the way, either way I think we're fine.
Posted by Daddy Love on October 6, 2012 at 5:03 PM · Report this
TVDinner 27
@12: Keep it classy, Dan.
Posted by TVDinner http:// on October 6, 2012 at 5:10 PM · Report this
28
@2: I thought Dan was trying to say that Allen was more like a carnival barker, although the meaning of the pun is a little unclear. I don't think Dan meant that Allen was canny, since in the next sentence he writes that Allen's deluded about his legacy.
Posted by Joe Glibmoron on October 6, 2012 at 5:39 PM · Report this
29
The Seattle Commons stuff predates my arrival here, but I'm site glad I get to live and work in the city. So, thanks Jeff Bezos!
Posted by madcap on October 6, 2012 at 5:43 PM · Report this
30
Not so glad that the iPhone's auto-correct is retarded, though.
Posted by madcap on October 6, 2012 at 5:45 PM · Report this
31
We've got parks - Seattle Center's right there, and the new park along the lake is awesome. SLU is now a major employment center, and I'm glad all those office buildings are there not in Monroe or Kent or Bumfuck.
Posted by shabadoo on October 6, 2012 at 5:50 PM · Report this
32
The Commons was a really bad idea. SLU as it now, and as it is developing, is much better for the city than a big useless park in that part of town. The "dumbfucks" were right.
what Seattle could really use is a big urban public space in the heart of downtown. Westlake Park doesn't cut it.
Posted by ian on October 6, 2012 at 6:03 PM · Report this
Dr_Awesome 33
@23: Monorail=above traffic, traffic lights, and traffic jams.
Posted by Dr_Awesome on October 6, 2012 at 6:16 PM · Report this
34
Yeah but subways are cooler
Posted by Merchant Seaman on October 6, 2012 at 7:17 PM · Report this
michael strangeways 35
So in love with the Taco Time crack right now...I wish I had written that.
Posted by michael strangeways http://www.seattlegayscene.com/ on October 6, 2012 at 9:37 PM · Report this
seandr 36
Correction Dan:
The $250 million for the Commons project included funds to fix the "Mercer Mess", which we are currently fixing at a cost of ... wait for it... $250 million!

It wasn't Paul Allen's fault. The blame lies squarely on every idiot who voted against it.
Posted by seandr on October 6, 2012 at 10:27 PM · Report this
seandr 37
@12: I distinctly recall you writing in favor of the Commons, even though the Stranger was officially against it.

P.S. The Stranger news department is the best its ever been, but there's one dumb fuck remaining. Hint - he's not Jewish.

P.P.S. Remember Inga Musico?
Posted by seandr on October 6, 2012 at 10:48 PM · Report this
Fnarf 38
Parks are stupid things. Big empty areas are a terrible idea in the middle of cities. One of the things that keeps Seattle from coming alive is dead areas between neighborhoods -- most of which are covered with concrete and "left turn only" signs, not grass, but still. SLU is better off without the "Commons", which was stupidly named to begin with -- it was named after Boston Common, no "s", which is 375 years old and in a completely different urban situation.

I don't mourn the Commons. I mourn the monorail.

@37, Muscio, not Musico, and who could ever forget her. I especially recall her fervent WAR ON GYNECOLOGY, which lost much of its impact when an actual gynecologist, a woman no less, chimed in and called her on her unusually rich, thick strain of bullshit. For starters, tampons are not in fact slave weapons of the patriarchy. she did write the world's most accurately titled book.

I disagree on what is wrong with the News Department today. The non-Jew isn't the problem.
Posted by Fnarf http://www.facebook.com/fnarf on October 6, 2012 at 11:07 PM · Report this
Fnarf 39
@32, what Seattle could use right in the heart of downtown is A HEART OF DOWNTOWN. Something that's not mostly blank walls and closed-off nothingness and empty plazas and freeways. @31 is correct in that the economic activity in SLU is better there than in Kent. Parks are dumb. A small one here and there is plenty. The best cities have little park space, comparatively (and I dare you, I just dare you, to mention Central Park in New York).
Posted by Fnarf http://www.facebook.com/fnarf on October 6, 2012 at 11:35 PM · Report this
COMTE 40
Ah, Inga. She once reviewed a play I directed, complaining that it didn't have enough roles for women in it.

The title of the play was "A Couple of White Chicks Sitting Around Talking"...
Posted by COMTE http://www.chriscomte.com on October 6, 2012 at 11:38 PM · Report this
seandr 41
@38: Parks are stupid things.

That's true, if you're designing a city that no human being would want to live in besides Fnarf.

The monorail would be finished by now, right? Sigh.

Glad I'm not the only one who remembers Inga's special brand of genius. The Stranger should bring her back. Her comments sections would be comedy gold.
Posted by seandr on October 6, 2012 at 11:46 PM · Report this
seandr 42
@40: That is hilarious.

She raises a good point, though. Why not thousands of chicks sitting around talking? Or marching in protest? Or does the right to peaceably assemble only apply to men?

Posted by seandr on October 7, 2012 at 12:16 AM · Report this
43
Susie Burke and John Fox were leaders against the commons, and they are now leading the charge in favor of City Council by district. Keep this in mind, folks.
And Fnarf et al. the monorail was the worst fucking idea to come up in forever.
Let's put a giant hulking concrete...viaduct(!)...down 2nd avenue, with 2nd Avenue's pleasant mix of small to medium scale new and old buildings, many of them residential. The people who live there are URBAN!, they'll love having trains going by 100 times a day on the big hulking concrete viaduct, and no problem removing 50+-y.o. trees in Pioneer Square to make way!
Sure, Joel Horn told us it would be "smaller" than the existing monoral structure. Riiiiight. Those of you who thought this was a wonderful idea likely neither live nor work downtown (and certainly not near 2nd Ave.)
In any case, I was ambivalent about the commons, though voted yes, but couldn't have been more opposed to the monorail if I'd tried.
Posted by crone on October 7, 2012 at 1:49 AM · Report this
44
"Parks are stupid things. Big empty areas are a terrible idea in the middle of cities."

Taking away parks would be just about the best way to get me--and many, many other people--to move to the burbs. Parks are an important way for me to get fresh air, sunlight, relaxation and exercise. They are most definitely not stupid.
Posted by ryanmm on October 7, 2012 at 7:28 AM · Report this
Matt the Engineer 45
@44 I think you're falling for Fnarf's lack of a middle ground. The argument shouldn't be *no parks, anywhere, ever*. Parks are fine when small or sparse. You need enough people to use them, all the time, for them to be a benefit for a city. Otherwise they become uncomfortable to be in, especially after dark, and once that happens nobody goes there.

Seattle's got a good balance. Go to a city with too many or two large of parks, and you'll come running back home.
Posted by Matt the Engineer on October 7, 2012 at 8:49 AM · Report this
46
We have some good parks. We could have had a Great park. Not doing the commons when we had the chance was a Forward Thrust level mistake. That said: if I can't have the commons; the road-at-lake and other micro park areas go a long way towards keeping me happy to live here.
Posted by david on October 7, 2012 at 9:07 AM · Report this
rob! 47
@35: Oscar Wilde: "I wish I had said that."
James McNeill Whistler: "You will, Oscar, you will."
Posted by rob! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZBdUceCL5U on October 7, 2012 at 9:31 AM · Report this
48
@4 - the larger issue with the commons and the Mariners station on the same ballot is voter financial fatigue. Dan Evans, a big Commons supporter, was furious with John Ellis and the Mariners for insisting the stadium vote be on the primary ballot, along with the Commons. Both lost narrowly. If the Mariners had waited until the general election, the Commons would have won, and the Mariners' stadium vote, especially coming after the M's historic playoff run, would also have won.

The defeat of the stadium on the ballot, followed by the state legislature and Governor bailout, also stirred up anti-tax sentiment, which fed into the creation of Tom Eyman and others.
Posted by Ebenezer on October 7, 2012 at 9:44 AM · Report this
MrBaker 49
I had a hard time supporting the building a new park while the city actively ignored Seattle Center.
I will have a hard time supporting a new plaza/park/pramanade on the waterfront while the city actively ignores Seattle Center.
It just looks like whatever these grand ideas are as presented will all become another neglected Seattle Center. This city loves to build new stuff, plazas, libraries, etc, but actually sustaining these things is less of a priority.

As for the monorail, I voted for it even though I do not live downtown, would likely never use it, and paid a big car tab tax, primarily to shut you people up. The endless bitching that the city doesn't serve downtown enough is a fucking joke. It's the "metro is not serving us" answer, another mass transit system, ya, that makes total sense.

It would be less expensive and more for the city to build parking garages while eliminating on street parking, recoaim those on street lanes for dedicated bus service. I know it doesn't have the sexy curb appeal for condo sellers as monorails and streetcars, but those bus routes are much more flexible than any rail, ever.
Posted by MrBaker http://manywordsforrain.blogspot.com/ on October 7, 2012 at 10:25 AM · Report this
DOUG. 50
I voted against the Commons because The Stranger told me to.
Posted by DOUG. http://www.dougsvotersguide.com on October 7, 2012 at 10:42 AM · Report this
Fnarf 51
@44, you're admitting that the only thing that keeps you in the city is smugness, then? Like most Americans, you are not motivated by happiness or pleasure or even convenience, but by moral superiority. You only live in the city because it lets you look down on the suburbs, not because you actually like city living. Classic. This is how most Americans approach every question.

It is especially endemic to Seattleites, which is why whenever any urban development problem comes up the chorus starts bleating for "open space" (in a city which is mostly already open space) and against "overcrowding" and "density" -- because most Seattleites do, in fact, live in the suburbs they hate so much -- they're just not called that, because of where the lines are drawn.

If you would take half an hour and read just a little bit about how cities develop, you would see that parks, like other city features, develop organically, and are generally speaking already there while the city develops around them. Great urban parks like Boston Common and Central Park WERE "in the suburbs" when they were first established, and the city grew around them. They didn't take swathes of the already- active city fabric out of commission to build them.

Taking areas out of the city doesn't just kill those areas; it weakens the areas near it, all across the metropolis. It weakens the city itself. At its core, a city is really nothing but a network of routes and destinations, and adding destinations creates more routes, and vice versa. That's what a city DOES, if it wants to succeed: it packs more stuff in. It doesn't take stuff away. Parks taken out of the fabric of the city destroy routes and replace many destinations with one.

But that's what you want. You're saying "unless you make the city look just like a suburb, we're all packing up and moving to the suburbs". That's what parks are: suburban.

Large urban parks constructed in this way are dead zones. Everyone likes to repeat the cliches they've heard so many times about "clean air" and "children playing" -- children! But in reality, it rains, and there's nothing there, and those aren't children, they're homeless people and drug dealers. They take the space, because after the rhetoric evaporates no one else wants it.

I'm obviously exaggerating when I say "no parks" and "parks are stupid", but you've already got yer goddamn parks. There's a park right there already; do you ever go to it? No? You should, it's nice -- lots of views, boats, the Center for Wooden Boats, soon the reopened MOHAI. But it's got fewer visitors doing fewer things than just about any area the same size in the downtown core.

Just up the way you've got Seattle Center; another classic Seattleite feature is Short Attention Span Theater, and the saga of what to do with the Center is one of the stars. But no, instead of thinking hard about that question and sticking with it until it's solved, it's immediately forgotten and the next thing moved on to -- I know, let's build a streetcaSTADIUM!

Instead of looking at every block in the city and thinking "how can we flatten this, cover it with lawn, and thus return it to nature?" we should be thinking "how can we get a thousand more people and fifty more shops living on this block without making them feel uncomfortable". THAT'S what makes a city. You know what I want a view of? A thousand people milling around doing whatever cockamamie crazy stuff people do, like you'll see on any busy street in any real city in the world. Most Americans have never seen that; most Americans want to call the cops if they see ANYONE on their empty streets and empty lawns. Stuff yer lawns. And don't tell me that more lawns make better cities.
More...
Posted by Fnarf http://www.facebook.com/fnarf on October 7, 2012 at 11:00 AM · Report this
GlamB0t 52
This seems like a grass is greener problem. If it had been built, people would complain that there's not enough space for a company like Amazon to move to within the city limits.

I was not here in the 90's however I find it odd that the Seattle Center (which would essentially be right next to this giant park) continuously gets ignored.
Posted by GlamB0t on October 7, 2012 at 11:13 AM · Report this
53
EVERYONE READ @51. Quickly, slowly, however, just read it.
Posted by gloomy gus on October 7, 2012 at 11:35 AM · Report this
Josh Bis 54
I love it when Fnarf earns that Awesome Person tag.
Posted by Josh Bis http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/Author.html?oid=3815563 on October 7, 2012 at 11:41 AM · Report this
55
Fnarf, you're wrong.

You know how I feel about density—I'm planning to write a "bring on the canyons!" post about the buildings going up at 15th and Pine—but you're just wrong about large, centrally-located urban parks. Central Park, Prospect Park, Golden Gate Park, the English Garden in Munich, Lincoln and Grant Parks and the entire lakefront in Chicago.

They're all packed. And they make density more livable by providing some open space. And when the whiners go off about needing more open space every time someone wants to put up a building, or make a neighborhood denser, city leaders and pro-density activists can point to these parks and say, "You want open space? The city has open space. But a city can't be nothing but open space."

Parks like Central Park and Golden Gate park make density an easier sell, Fnarf.
Posted by Dan Savage on October 7, 2012 at 12:37 PM · Report this
MrBaker 56
Read 51, I wrote a few of the same things, just not as well.

To this particular part below. I'll point out a few things.
As much as dislike the people promoting the council-by-district idea it is raise a point, the examination of the city block by block is impossible as long as we have ten mayors of downtown and zone jobs away from people and people away from jobs.

"We" treat different parts of the city like we treat different parts of King County. We artificially choose where something grows, then within the metropolitan area we subdivide that area again into "growth" areas of a type, then when folks that are too stupid/cheap to buy a home with a yard they actually want move into these urban profit centers they bitterly complain that it is missing a yard, or elementary school.

This city is full if parks, and yet "we" choose where to put the jobs and housing to grow around them. It would cost some money to put in sidewalks, and stop signs way out in the rest if Seattle, but we already have parks, and see no NEED to give condo owners the yard in the form of a park that they gleefully moved away from, and the suburbs they view with such disdain.

Instead of looking at every block in the city and thinking "how can we flatten this, cover it with lawn, and thus return it to nature?" we should be thinking "how can we get a thousand more people and fifty more shops living on this block without making them feel uncomfortable". THAT'S what makes a city. You know what I want a view of? A thousand people milling around doing whatever cockamamie crazy stuff people do, like you'll see on any busy street in any real city in the world. Most Americans have never seen that; most Americans want to call the cops if they see ANYONE on their empty streets and empty lawns. Stuff yer lawns. And don't tell me that more lawns make better cities.
More...
Posted by MrBaker http://manywordsforrain.blogspot.com/ on October 7, 2012 at 12:59 PM · Report this
MrBaker 57
Just how "smart" or "dumb" will The Stranger be when it comes to the levy votes on the Waterfront For All, and the $40 million+ coming out of the general fund, and the money coming out of the parks budget.

What great life lessons can we learn from the Commons and Seattle Center?
Posted by MrBaker http://manywordsforrain.blogspot.com/ on October 7, 2012 at 1:43 PM · Report this
58
MrBaker has a good point. Instead of all this crying over spilt milk, use the lessons learned where you can accomplish something that's happening in the current decade: the city turning outward to the water. There's more than park in south Lake Union. What do you envision for the big dog, the downtown waterfront, when the viaduct comes down?
Posted by earwig on October 7, 2012 at 1:53 PM · Report this
59
Well said Dan. You nailed it. The biggest argument used (over and over) was that a commons would change the nature of the neighborhood. Instead of it being working class and affordable, it would be ritzy, with condos and fancy office buildings. Anyone who knows geography could see that this was inevitable. Just look at a topographic map, factor in the freeways and it was pretty obvious that this area was going to grow like crazy. This is a good thing, but it would be a much better thing (for everyone, including the folks at Amazon) if there was a park there.

@32 Originally, the plan for Westlake Park was to make it big. It would be much bigger than the current park. They killed it, then in typical half-ass Seattle style, simply scaled it down.

Seattle has killed so many great ideas (forward thrust, etc.). Mainly it has been because we are cheap (our biggest and nicest park has a sewage plant in it only because that was the cheapest option when they had to add secondary treatment). That is why the Kingdome was a great symbol for Seattle -- we are cheap, but get things done.

Of course, sometimes it is great that we kill some ideas. We almost bulldozed the Pike Place Market.
Posted by Ross on October 7, 2012 at 2:45 PM · Report this
Fnarf 60
@55, no, YOU are wrong. Neither Central Park nor Golden Gate Park were taken out of the developed city. Golden Gate Park was sand dunes when it was laid out, as was the entire western side of San Francisco. Central Park in New York was way the hell out in the sticks; rich folks used to have their country houses out that way. If you're looking for an analogue of Central Park here, you're looking for Volunteer Park -- which is TWICE AS CLOSE to Seattle City Hall as Central Park is to New York City Hall (2.4 miles vs. 5 miles). You already have your park. Friggin' Gas Works Park is closer to downtown (via Westlake) than Central Park is to Wall Street.

That's how parks and cities grow together. I don't think you understand that process. I think a lot of people don't understand that process; they think someone paints a pretty watercolor and then the Council approves it and there you go. But it never, ever works that way. Ripping out a big hunk of the city instead will kill that city, because all of the lines and connections that have built up over the 150 years it's been there will be cut off, to say nothing of the loss of the area itself, which even before the current Vulcan/Amazon boom was an extremely useful working area -- itself damaged by an earlier cutting-off, Aurora Avenue.

In addition to the lakefront park and Seattle Center, there's another really nice park not too far away that nobody uses: Denny Park. Lovely spot. The only people in it are drug dealers and homeless people. YOU ALREADY HAVE YOUR PARKS.

The lesson learned? The same lesson Seattle always learns: commercial activity must not be allowed. The waterfront is going to be world-class horrible.
Posted by Fnarf http://www.facebook.com/fnarf on October 7, 2012 at 3:34 PM · Report this
Posted by avocado on October 7, 2012 at 3:56 PM · Report this
62
@60:
FARNF,

Cities evolve that's the nature of a city, if you wish to protect Seattle you should have been opposing yachts at Fishermen's Terminal, and the Arena in SODO to protect the working port and the industrial area in SODO
Posted by Merchant Seaman on October 7, 2012 at 4:12 PM · Report this
63
Hey, Dan, at least you got your Middle East war though. Right? Happy?
Posted by cracked on October 7, 2012 at 4:37 PM · Report this
64
Seriously, Allen could have paid for this with his pocket change, but he wanted us to genuflect and pay for his aggrandizement. Asshole. The EMP just makes him look like a pitiful rich person who doesn't know how to do anything of lasting value with his money.
Posted by cracked on October 7, 2012 at 4:40 PM · Report this
65
On a slightly different note:
Happy Birthday Dan. Hope you are having your cake and eating it too. Or something like that. Or drinking away the day. Have a great celebration. Will the Seattle Times now report that you are 35? Just wondering.
Posted by SeattleKim on October 7, 2012 at 5:06 PM · Report this
seandr 66
@60: Neither Central Park nor Golden Gate Park were taken out of the developed city

And neither would The Commons have been. It would have been taken out of an area that was completely underdeveloped and underutilized. We're talking parking lots, single story warehouses, some left over car dealerships, light manufacturing.

As for Amazon, there are plenty of other places it could have gone within Seattle, including downtown.
Posted by seandr on October 7, 2012 at 7:08 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 67
@ Fnarf, the real lesson is that some people can't get the fuck over shit they lost 16 years ago. And they likely won't be handling it any better when it's 32 years in the past.
Posted by Matt from Denver on October 7, 2012 at 7:53 PM · Report this
Fnarf 68
@66, yeah, fuck light manufacturing, that's not anything. Those aren't people.
Posted by Fnarf http://www.facebook.com/fnarf on October 7, 2012 at 9:04 PM · Report this
seandr 69
@68: Oh, please, cut the bullshit.

My point - Seattle and the SLU area of 15 years ago was at a comparable level of development as NYC when Central Park was built.

If you've been to Central Park lately, you quickly realize that as large as it is, it's not large enough. In another 100 years, it'll be as packed as a Jersey shore beach in July.
Posted by seandr on October 7, 2012 at 10:12 PM · Report this
70
"An irregular terrain of swamps and bluffs, punctuated by rocky outcroppings, made the land between Fifth and Eighth avenues and 59th and 106th streets undesirable for private development. Creating the park, however, required displacing roughly 1,600 poor residents, including Irish pig farmers and German gardeners, who lived in shanties on the site. At Eighth Avenue and 82nd Street, Seneca Village had been one of the city's most stable African-American settlements, with three churches and a school. The extension of the boundaries to 110th Street in 1863 brought the park to its current 843 acres." That sure sounds like the Cascade District. Unless, say, you ever actually were there.
Posted by Breadbaker on October 8, 2012 at 2:16 AM · Report this
seandr 71
@70: Substitute parking lots and abandoned warehouses for swamps, and yes, level of development was comparable.

Actually, I'd be surprised if SLU had even 1600 residents back in the mid 90's.
Posted by seandr on October 8, 2012 at 8:39 AM · Report this
72
Substitute parking lots and abandoned warehouses for swamps, and yes, level of development was comparable.
C'mon.
Posted by gloomy gus on October 8, 2012 at 9:27 AM · Report this
73
Stupid liberals, why should he give $250M? He has given so much to this city already and he earned the money, he can do with it as he pleases. Looks like he is the one laughing all the way to the bank with his newest billion.

BTW, this doesn't make sense "But he was going to be benefit" don't you have an editor or even spell/grammar check?
Posted by Makjak on October 8, 2012 at 10:22 AM · Report this
74
Opposed the Commons. Glad I won. Have a swell pity party, folks.
Posted by J.R. on October 8, 2012 at 10:36 AM · Report this
Will in Seattle 75
What I love is, that by killing off the Commons, we encouraged Paul Allen to used tax-exempt foundation money to buy properties he pays no tax on.

Effectively subsidizing what he wants at the expense of the rest of the city.

Bygones.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on October 8, 2012 at 11:47 AM · Report this
wilbur@work 76
I, too, voted for your stupid monorail (what, 5 times?), even tho as a Lake City resident it would never, ever benefit me. Remember the original X-pattern we voted for that magically turned into a straight line from Ballard to WS AFTER we voted yes? I do.

That project was run by carpetbaggers and had zero chance of succeeding. The SLU park taking shape now is quite nice and has better lake access than the Commons would have. But it appears that the Stranger hasn't bothered to check it out, or check out any of the excellent restaurants and bars that have popped up in SLU, and advertise right here in this paper.

Shame's all on you, Stranger.
Posted by wilbur@work on October 8, 2012 at 9:04 PM · Report this
brandon 77
God I could really use a Chicken Crisp Burrito.
Posted by brandon on October 9, 2012 at 9:34 AM · Report this
78
Dan's "Allen Park" idea is great in hindsight, and I wish it had happened. But unless we demolish a few skyscrapers for civic good, this city will never, ever have a downtown park, and that's a fucking shame. But I don't blame Paul Allen for making a ton of money off of South Lake Union. If he hadn't done it, somebody else would have.
Posted by mitten on October 9, 2012 at 11:32 AM · Report this
79
Map of Seattle Commons: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/co…

Westlake Ave North, the mixed-use, mixed-height, mixed-architectural-era heart and spine of redeveloping South Lake Union... all of that would have been flattened!

Genius, that would have been.
Posted by d.p. on October 9, 2012 at 7:15 PM · Report this

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