BY TOM IM
Inter*Im Neighborhood Planner
Inter*Im is currently working with various community stakeholders on developing Maynard Avenue into a “Green Street.” As defined by the City of Seattle, a Green Street “is an urban landscaped setting that functions as a continuous linear open space for pedestrians.”
Although the City designated Maynard Avenue, between Jackson and Main Streets, as a Green Street in 1992, neither the City nor community has made any effort in developing Maynard into a “linear open space for pedestrians.” Two ensuing neighborhood-planning efforts in 1998 and 2004, however, illuminated the community’s interest in pursuing the idea of transforming Maynard Avenue into a Green Street.
The community’s interest was partially inspired in trying to strengthen the identification of the Danny Woo International District Community Garden. Many people that walk through this community do not know that the Community Garden exists, consequently the Green Street would act as a gateway leading people up the Maynard Avenue “hill” to the Garden. We would additionally add signage and public art to improve the streetscape, thus enhancing the experience for the pedestrian.
The project will also incorporate resting spots to help the elderly climb Maynard Avenue; however, these benches will be designed in a way that they cannot be used for sleeping. We also plan to widen the sidewalk and add lighting to the area, consequently helping to create an activated, safe gathering place for the neighborhood.
In addition, this project plans to integrate public art elements that will help culturally define this area as the Nihonmachi (Japantown) community. This project will also harvest rain water from the adjacent building’s roofs, which will be then fed into the various planters we will install in the sidewalk, thus preventing rainwater collected from these roofs from going directly into the City’s sewage systems.
The design of the project has generously been worked on by two landscape architecture students and Professor Jeff Hou at the University of Washington. These two students interviewed several people in the neighborhood, including gardeners at the Danny Woo Community Garden. The interviews helped the students envision what type of design would be the most appropriate for that space.
To help steer and monitor the progress of the project, Inter*Im has assembled a Green Street committee of businesses, property owners, residents and non-profits. This committee meets on a monthly basis and discusses issues revolving around the creation of this Green Street and future plans for developing other streets around the Nihonmachi community. We additionally are currently working with SvR Design on the structural engineering section of the project. SvR Design was heavily involved in creating the noteworthy Vine Street/Green Street project in Belltown.
If you have any questions or interest in being involved in this project, please contact me at (206) 624-1802.