Blogs Jun 28, 2010 at 11:38 am


It's the block where Manray and Bimbo's was located. As much as I love parks and would love to see more shitty lots turned into them, Dan has a very good point.
Hear, hear. Commercial blocks, not parks.
Dan: While I agree Seattle should encourage density near transit to support ridership and other goals, it should not be the only objective. One of the reasons density is so controversial in this city is it typically comes without consideration for other amenities (parks, libraries, community centers, etc.). As a result, more density does not benefit the existing neighbors, who balk. What Seattle needs is an intelligent approach that mixes density with a range of amenities. Why shouldn't a light rail station have a park or other open plaza where people can meet and hang out. If this space were surrounded my retail, restaurants, and housing it would be active and inviting. And it would draw people in. Sometimes approaches are not so black and white.

@3 where you going to get the money to pay for the construction or upkeep of the park or greenspace when it's all spoken for given the Billionaires' Tunnel cost overruns?

There's no magic funding fairy out there, people. Decisions have consequences, and $1 to $4 BILLION is a lot more than the measly $250,000 for more parks spent last year - by a factor of 10,000 - yup, it's that much bigger.
But parks near rail stations are the best places to drink malt liquor until you piss yourself.
I love love love when Dan talks urban planning.
3: But it's not as if there's not going to be a park nearby! Cal Anderson is a lot closer than this empty lot to the light rail station. Also, that location *is* surrounded by restaurants, retail, and housing.
@3 You are missing the point. There is already a park in very close proximity to the station site.


New Seattle density isn't too dense. It's not dense enough. Our 6-story limits and "open space requirements" fill block after block with indistinct boxes offset with ridiculous courtyards and plazas that nobody uses. You want parkland? Go to any of the hundreds of parks already scattered around the city. But if you want pedestrian usage, you have to make the streetscape interesting, the street frontage continuous, and give pedestrians something worthwhile to use.'

Like this:…
well said, d.p. (and dan).

this space shouldn't be a park permanently, it should be built up. but, in the meantime, a park -- or anything that attracts people to use the space, to have a vested interest in it -- should be encouraged.

by calling his original post 'right to the city', charles is referring to lefebvre's idea that people should have full use of urban space, including the right to influence how it is built. the value of these types of interventions is that it connects people to places, so that when it's time to build, there is a formed contingent of people ready to fight for what should be there. so go over there, have a bbq, come to the next garage sale, etc. make it 'ours'...that's what the 'right to the city' means.
Seattle is full of shitty little half-block "parks" that no one uses. We don't need any more.
Yeah, let's think about this for a second. Get off the train in Captiol Hill. Walk through pleasant, tree lined neighborhoods for 20 minutes and you're in Volunteer Park. Enjoy that for a while and then walk for a few minutes more and you're deep into the urban wildland of Interlaken Park. Perambulate down the Olmstead-designed switchbacks down into Montlake and from there mosey through the Arboretum and its many quiet lanes to Madison Park, from whence one can hike the Lake Washington Trail to one of many other parks: Frink, Coleman, Genessee, or Seward. Easy access to the Chief Sealth trail, which would lead one back into Central Seattle nearby rail stations.

All this would constitute perhaps one of the best days ever -- way better than some shitty little park in Seattle's densest neighborhoods. I'm all for parks, but only when they make sense!
I disagree, There is so little open space left and open space is rarely created from buildings. Let's preserve open space and raise the height caps and create incentives for roof top gardens. These tiny little parks are going to feel a lot more important as density increases. Cal Anderson is always at capacity on sunny days, it is downright crowded. We could definitely use more open space on the Hill. And yes, that is the lot on Pine where Bimbo's used to me.

So-called "dense Seattle" is criminally full of underused urban potential, whether in the form of unbuilt, underbuilt, or poorly built lots.

Across the street:…

A block away:…

The former is exactly what I was describing @9. It's there to satisfy "open space" design regulations, but nobody uses it (not residents, not passers-by.)

The latter is a small and irregular abandoned lot that would require creative design to make useful and profitable -- something virtually outlawed by Seattle's design regs and parking requirements.

The highest irony of Seattle's approach to density is that it encourages developers to fill the remaining buildable space with incomprehensibly tiny housing units. In new-density areas, we wind up living in less square footage than people in cities with five times the population density -- which, in turn, leads the (mostly young) residents to see dense living as a stop-gap on the road to owning a house someday.
The second link didn't come through properly:…
Seattle isn't that dense, we've got a ways to grow, hopefully up.

Um, I agree with you. But that's sort of the opposite of what your pro-pocket park comment @13 implied.

And you didn't respond to my visual examples of how "open space" development regulations lead to poorly-designed nooks and gaps in the street frontage that actually discourage pedestrianism.
It's worth remembering that the world's great walking cities -- Boston, San Francisco, even Paris -- aren't especially tall. But they are truly dense (new Seattle development, and Capitol Hill as a whole, is falsely dense), and their street frontage is by and large complete!

Well-placed parks and plazas and escapes from the urban continuity are vital in those places, but you have to have some saturation-density (which Seattle does not) before you can justify adding more of those things.
This attitude is the main reason why Seattle lags so far behind Portland in livability.

Please wait...

and remember to be decent to everyone
all of the time.

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