The designers have yet to be chosen, pencil has not been put to paper and no blueprints exist. Yet costs have been assigned. City Hall says it will be raising $451 million in new taxes via vehicle license fees, parking taxes, real-estate tax, and Local Improvement Districts, LIDs.
That will go toward the $841 million needed for waterfront open space, seawall replacement, the South Spokane Street Viaduct, Mercer East, Mercer West, parking programs and utility replacement associated with the Viaduct Replacement Project.
Supposedly $416 million of the $841 desired by City Hall is identified already. The yet unplanned Mercer West project is $100 million of the total. Of that, $57 million will be from new taxes. Another $123 million of our income will pay for clearing open space on the waterfront. Mediocre artwork and other capital improvements are additional.
The west Mercer neighborhood, according to City Hall's consultants, will enjoy $13 million to $25 million in "benefits" from the project, and could be designated an LID. Some may argue that there is no "benefit" in being made the primary truck route from 15th West to the new tunnel so Mercer may escape. It is likely that an LID will be established along the waterfront, the length of the current Viaduct. Residents and businesses there would pay about $200 million in new taxes. City Council has the final word on establishing those taxing districts.
When Washington State Department of Transportation organized the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Project it established North and South Working Groups. These allow representatives of various community interests to review the state's project design.
Once upon a time there also was a Central Waterfront Working Group. While not officially killed, it is in limbo with no meetings and no input, seemingly a casualty of backroom politics influencing this project. It was dealing with the challenge of opening the waterfront to other uses while moving 25,000 to 30,000 vehicles along the proposed new Alaskan Way.
Its replacement is the Central Waterfront Partnerships Committee. That Committee is co-chaired by former mayor, Charlie Royer. During his tenure Royer labored mightily and brought forth Westlake Mall, another of Seattle's unremarkable examples of urban development. Now he is advising, "the Mayor and Council on effective models for the management, programming and use of new public spaces on the Central Waterfront," according to the ordinance.
His co-chair is Maggie Walker, chair of the Bullitt Foundation's Board of Trustees, one of the many leftist non-profits in the city that list her on their rosters. The non-native, Ivy League liberal arts graduate fits city hall's very definition of someone qualified to determine the city's future.
The Partnerships Committee has a critical role in finding a design firm for the waterfront open spaces while outlining the project's scope. The firm, when selected, will be doing the blueprints for the project already determined to cost $123 million.
In another Seattle tradition, the Partnerships Committee is charged with forming two other committees, a steering committee and a stakeholder committee. Typically such committees are stacked to assure that city hall can control the outcome. If the City Council cannot agree on goals, the mayor's office, controlled by the bicycle mafia, will take charge of the outcome by default.
San Francisco could not create a viable waterfront when the Embarcadero came down.
The Big Dig, with billions in cost overruns, failed to create open spaces that people use. But Seattle might be different. With Charlie Royer peddling the bike and Mike McGinn riding the handle bars what could go wrong?[[In-content Ad]]