The Seattle waterfront is undergoing an epic change that will forever change the face of the city from the water’s edge. That change is the replacement of the aging Alaskan Way Viaduct. After nearly a decade of debate, deliberation, public comment and vote, as well as even legislative action, the decision was made last year in 2012 to move ahead with the deep bore tunnel option as the replacement method for the two level elevated viaduct that currently runs along the Seattle waterfront.
I am going to do a blog series talking about the good, the bad, and the ugly from the condominium owner and buyer’s perspective with regards to this project. I’ll hold my opinions until the end of the series, but I want to take you on a photo and map journey through the neighborhoods around the current viaduct that will be most impacted. Hopefully, this series will help bring some clarity and help folks make decisions about where they might want to live if they are looking into buying. Or if you currently own a Seattle condo in the affected areas, if and when you might want to consider selling and moving up to something different, or even staying put and enjoying what is to come.
We will start with where the tunnel is starting and where the viaduct has already partially been removed, which is Pioneer Square and the Stadium District (also called the south portal). This is the area where you see most of the construction going on currently. What’s happening here? They have basically temporarily rerouted highway 99 around an area where they are actively digging and constructing the south portal of the tunnel (aka, the Pit). This is where the big boring machine will be starting its dig to the north deep beneath the city. You can consider this ground zero, where it all starts.
The Florentine – 526 1st Ave S
This location will endure a lot of noise for quite some time still. Post construction, the temporary ramp up to the current viaduct will be removed and residents will have a much nicer connection to the waterfront along King Street and Railroad Way South. Currently those west facing unit are pretty socked in and lacking light, not to mention the road noise from 99 currently. For walkability to the water front and the new pedestrian/bike trail, it’s a dark scary feeling place right now with the roaring roadway above and massive steal structure holding up the temporary ramp. With the viaduct down, the noise, outlooks and connection to the waterfront will greatly improve.
Our Home Hotel Condominiums – 75 S Main St
Talk about a front row seat to all the action. This condominium building is one of the closest buildings to the current viaduct. Being within 20 feet of the structure this building will greatly benefit from the removal of the viaduct structure. New view opportunities to the west will be likely as well as a reduction in noise and increase in light.
80 S. Jackson Condominiums
Although 80 South Jackson Condos are not directly adjacent to the viaduct, several of the west facing units have their views obstructed by the concrete structure not to mention the fact that there is quite a bit of road noise currently. Upon the viaducts removal, residents will enjoy much better westerly views, more light, a reduction in road noise and a much more enjoyable connection the waterfront since they won’t have to walk, ride or drive under the viaduct. I just hope for their sake the building to the west does not get redeveloped, as that will re-block the westerly views. But that is always possible.
Merrill Place – 97 S Jackson St
Being only one block from the viaduct the Merrell Place condos will enjoy some of the same benefits of less road noise, increase in views for those units that face north and northwest, and a much more enjoyable jaunt to the waterfront.
Waterfront Place – 1009 Western Ave
This unique condo building is missed by many folks that mistake it only for an office building, but this high end luxury building has the top floors occupied by condos. The main benefit for this building will be a reduction in road noise, more enjoyable walks, rides and drives to the waterfront once the viaduct is removed. Not to mention the views from the units will no longer have the grey concrete and road ways, but rather a much improved Alaskan Way with more walking space, bike trails, and hopefully views of the street car again if it is reintroduced.
Aside from the obvious issues with construction, traffic due to construction and noise from the construction it appears most of the condo buildings in Pioneer Square will benefit greatly from the removal of the two level viaduct. A negative could be a potential increase in traffic on some of the east/west streets since the connection to the waterfront will be easier , and frankly more enjoyable. But this part of town is used to traffic from Mariners, Seahawks, and Sounders games and the countless events throughout the year at the Stadiums.
Soon Pioneer Square and Stadium District area condos will have a newly revamped waterfront less than a couple blocks away, and in some cases condos will almost be waterfront. What an improvement for them.
Part 2 of this series we’ll take a look at condos a bit further north in the West Edge Neighborhood that lies just south of Pike Place Market. For more information on the tunnel’s proposed route, its scheduled construction timeline, and a really cool video of the proposed completed tunnel checkout the links below.