Visualizing the gold rush around Seattle's doomed viaduct: Lots of projects completed already, other buildings fixed up, and more sites slated for redevelopment soonhttps://t.co/7KZkdiricX graphics by @Emily_M_Eng pic.twitter.com/q4Ws3gVE6q
— Mike Rosenberg (@ByRosenberg) March 8, 2019
It is the opposite of “build it and they will come”-removing the Seattle Alaska Way viaduct has connected the city in a way not seen in decades and there has been a flush of new real estate interest in the area. Projects that were built before the viaducts were removed now will enjoy unimpeded vistas of the Bay and mountains, plus a shore side park space that has yet to be realized.
As Seattle Times Mike Rosenberg reports “The transformation of an area marked by furniture stores, parking garages and century-old buildings has already begun. In all, about two dozen major projects have launched within a quarter-mile of the doomed section of the viaduct in the past five years, with more on the way.”
Of course many of the projects would have proceeded because of the location in Seattle’s downtown, but viaduct removal appears to be responsible for rising values. As Rosenberg writes “assessed values of commercial property within a quarter-mile of the viaduct have soared 59 percent since 2011, while commercial properties in the rest of the city are up 38 percent in that span, according to an analysis of data from the King County Assessor’s Office.”
Median building sales prices have increased, as well as rents for office buildings and apartments. Rosenberg calculates that since 2011 a total of $7 billion dollars in property sales occurred within 400 meters of the viaduct, $3 billion dollars more than the cost of taking the viaduct down.
But the viaducts are being replaced by a controversial tunnel for vehicular traffic, as well as an at grade road up to eight lanes wide.
The 712 million dollar park scheduled to be completed in four years will change the connection for walkers and cyclists to the waterfront area. A new property tax is being proposed for the area around the old viaduct as a local improvement district property tax. The assessed tax expects to garner 160 million dollars. Property owners in commercial areas will be assessed a median price of $5,900, with an average condo owner being assessed at $1,900.
The director of the Seattle Historic Waterfront Association calls it best when describing the viaduct as “a physical barrier and an emotional one for residents and the downtown”.
Here is a short video that shows the history of the Alaska Way viaduct. You can see by its sheer size and location how it split Seattle’s access between the downtown district and the waterfront.