The 23rd Avenue complete street project has been meeting with stakeholders and the public to gather feedback on a big repaving and redesign project spanning the entirety of the Central District from Madison to Rainier. While that project is primarily focused on the street itself, the 23rd Ave Action Plan will focus on reassessing the area around each major commercial and cultural node along the street: Union, Cherry and Jackson.
In short, the 23rd Ave Action Plan is a project led by the city’s Department of Planning and Development to create guidelines and a community vision for the future of the CD’s most active areas. Rather than a broad update to the existing Central Area Action Plan (last updated in 1998), the 23rd Ave Action Plan aims to focus more specifically on these key areas.
The project hopes to create “a vision that respects the culture so that when that new development comes in it respects that vision,” said DPD’s Quanlin Hu. An outreach team with liaisons who speak all the major languages represented in the neighborhood have already started meeting with stakeholders, and the first big “community workshop and resource fair” is scheduled for Saturday morning at Garfield Community Center (will be from 9 a.m. until noon).
While the Action Plan is different than the complete streets project, which is led by the Department of Transportation, both teams have stated a desire to work together and build on each project’s work.
The goals of the Action Plan are somewhat vague and will be developed and refined during most of 2013. Here’s the project purpose:
To establish a city-community collaboration that creates a shared vision and action plan to improve the health and equity of three Central Area community cores: 23rd Avenue & E. Union Street, 23rd Avenue & E. Cherry Street and 23rd Avenue & S. Jackson Street.
This project will focus on these community cores, where people live, work, play, learn and worship, to:
- Strengthen the community’s resilience so that its rich cultural heritage and diversity flourishes
- Build community, businesses and organization’s capacity to take actions to achieve the shared vision
- Create livable, healthy and supportive places that provide equitable access to resources and opportunities for everyone
- Leverage public and private investments to create tangible, positive change that meets the needs of existing and new communities
- An action plan of key priorities shared by the community and the city as a result of the planning process.
- Strong partnerships among the community, private and public entities to move forward projects in the action plan
Below are the preliminary project focus areas (Hu stressed that the study boundaries could change if public feedback suggests so):
Some ideas that have already started to stand out include the creation of a “strong inclusive business organization” to help CD small businesses work together to improve storefronts and market the neighborhood’s various business districts, said Hu. Another clear priority is affordable housing, she said.
While a rezone allowing for taller buildings in some areas is one potential tool in DPD’s toolkit, Hu said such a recommendation would be developed during the community workshops. As one might expect, initial conversations with community members have shown that some people want bigger developments, and others do not.
Parts of the plan could begin implementation by the end of the year. Other aspects could roll out during coming years.
Got an idea or vision for the neighborhood? Want to have your say on the direction the plan should go? Then attend Saturday’s workshop and/or
take this online survey (UPDATE: That survey is now closed, but a new one will be available at the end of Thursday at this link, according to DPD).
Here are some of the initial project documents for more information: