From Boston to San Francisco and cities in between, increasing the quality of livable and usable urban space has become a hot issue. Waterfront redevelopment, highway removal, and linear park creation (and activation) are leading the way. For Seattle, that means redoing the waterfront by replacing the deteriorating seawall, removing the earthquake damaged Alaskan Way Viaduct, and building a tunnel. When these projects are complete, it also means carrying out James Corner's massive over $1 billion waterfront plan with proposed features like a public promenade, lookouts, a dedicated bike path, and more, that would wind along the western edge of the city from Belltown and south to Pioneer Square. Other related projects also include a Pike Place Market addition, an aquarium expansion, and Pike-Pine improvements, among others. But a new kid on the block is trying to shake things up. Enter Initiative-123. Seattle-based Kate Martin (who ran for mayor in 2013) is leading a competing vision to the James Corner plan. The opposing proposal calls for a mile-long, six-acre elevated High Line style park. The idea is to reinforce and convert a southern portion of the viaduct into a promenade and then extend it, rebuilding an entirely new portion as a dedicated haven to walkers and cyclists. "Elevated parks are at the forefront of urban open spaces and delays in the unimproved plan have created an opportunity for a re-imagining of Seattle’s waterfront," reads the I-123 policy. "The city’s unimproved waterfront plan attempts to mix commercial, transportation, and pedestrian space into an end product that doesn’t meet any of these users’ needs." The proposal is gaining traction, recently getting enough signatures (over 20,638) to go before the city council on August 17. With the council expected to reject it, I-123 would then get put on the ballot, and possibly be up for a citizen vote next summer. And should the ballot measure pass, it would establish a public development authority. If this happens, "it is going to create serious problems, with the millions of dollars that have already been spent,” City Council member Sally Bagshaw told the Seattle Times last week. For now, we wait.
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Chicago's long-awaited bikeway and elevated park, The 606, opened last weekend (on 6/6, no less) to a rush of pedestrians and cyclists who were eager to test out the new 2.7-mile trail after years of planning, design and construction. The public park remains extremely popular in the sunny week following its debut. https://vimeo.com/130217662 Formerly called the Bloomingdale Trail, the former railroad has been likened to New York City's High Line, but it is quite different—the 606 is as much a highway for bikes as anything else, due in part to its having been largely funded through the U.S. Department of Transportation's Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) improvement program. For those who haven't had a chance to visit the trail, Steven Vance of Streetsblog snapped this time-lapse video of a recent bike ride that covers the length of the trail, which runs through the West Side neighborhoods of Humboldt Park, Logan Square, Wicker Park, and West Town. (Vance is also a contributor to AN.) https://instagram.com/p/3tlNEuERTh/ Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates led the design of the trail, which slopes slightly at various points throughout its length to slow bike traffic and suggest spaces for community events. Several access points connect the elevated trail to parks and city streets below. Meanwhile with The 606 up and running, affordable housing advocates are worried the popular park could help swell the tide of gentrification sweeping out longtime neighborhood residents. https://instagram.com/p/3t4zaOCP0J/
The City of Atlanta has announced a competition for the design of an outdoor cultural pavilion for prominent display on the Westside trail of the Atlanta BeltLine. The BeltLine is the most comprehensive transportation and economic development ever undertaken by the City of Atlanta, and among the largest urban redevelopment programs in the US, providing affordable workforce housing, brownfield remediation, public art, and historic preservation. The National Pavilion Design Competition seeks designs for the second pavilion in a series of small, multi-purpose artistic pavilions occupying green spaces along the BeltLine as part of the Art on the Atlanta BeltLine program, which represents the South’s largest outdoor temporary art exhibition. The culture-conscious platform engages hundreds of artists to display visual and performing arts in the parks and along the trails of the BeltLine. The pavilion’s prospective location at the intersection of the Westside trail and Allene Avenue poises it to become an iconic landmark for the Adair Park community and its surrounding historic neighborhood. In the spirit of fostering community gathering, the Atlanta BeltLine is also seeking designs for a permanent performance space at Adair Park. Design-wise, the facility should represent the quality art and architecture which the BeltLine strives to embody. The competition is seen to straddle the fields of art, architecture, landscape architecture, and the pedestrian experience, as well as provide a catalyst for economic development. “This competition demonstrates that small yet exceptional design can offer huge benefits for Atlanta communities,” said Melody Harclerode, President of AIA Atlanta and manager of the National Pavilion Design Competition. The only eligibility requirement is that an individual or team member be a licensed architect holding active AIA membership. The first place winner stands to receive a $10,000 cash prize, while a $5,000 and $3,000 prize are up for grabs for the second and third place winners respectively. The competition represents a partnership between AIA Atlanta, Atlanta BeltLine Inc., and the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs.
A video released last week gives Clevelanders the clearest picture yet of plans for a greenway beside the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority's Red Line. The idea has drawn comparisons to New York’s High Line or Chicago’s Bloomingdale Trail (aka The 606). The Rotary Club of Cleveland on Wednesday revealed their plans for the Red Line Greenway, a 3-mile linear park that would run from the Zone Recreation Center at West 65th Street to downtown Cleveland using a right-of-way next to the RTA's Red Line. At a meeting last week, Rotary member sought public input on the $13 million project, over which they've signed a memorandum of understanding with Cleveland Metroparks and RTA. A fundraising campaign is forthcoming, said supporters including the Rotary's Leonard Stover. The federal government has provided the three-phase project a $2 million grant—a little less than half the cost of the first leg, an extension from the RTA viaduct west to West 41st Street. Construction would not begin before 2019, Stover told Steven Litt of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Litt has the Rotary's full presentation on the newspaper's website.
The City of Chicago broke ground Tuesday on the Bloomingdale Trail, or the 606 to use the combined name for the elevated trail and its five access parks, fulfilling a promise and long-term planning process that dates back years. Walsh Construction Company won the $53.7 million contract, which city officials told the Sun-Times was $5.2 million lower than the closest competition. The city plans to use $50 million in federal money to pay for construction. Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office said the trail is being built in phases, and “will be open end-to-end in Fall 2014, with additional construction phases continuing to embellish landscaping and other amenities.” The 2.7-mile abandoned freight rail viaduct runs through several West Side neighborhoods, many of which have brought together community groups to help plan for the project. Meanwhile Chicago Magazine’s Dennis Rodkin answers a question in his column about investing in real estate along The 606. The neighborhoods—Noble Square, Bucktown, Humboldt Park, Wicker Park, and Logan Square—have always been good places to invest, and the 606’s route is “icing on the cake,” he says. “Also, you may be coming at this late. Real estate developers have had their eye on the potential of the Bloomingdale Trail for several years.”