BY KEN MOCHIZUKI
Examiner Assistant Editor
Maynard Avenue is going green.
At a community meeting on Jan. 25, a group of community activists, University of Washington instructors and students and landscape designers provided an update on the “Maynard Avenue Green Street Project.” The Project will convert the block-long road beginning at South Jackson Street and ending at the Danny Woo International District Community Garden on South Main Street into a “green street” – defined as a “continuous open space for pedestrians,” said Tom Im, neighborhood planner with the Inter*Im Community Development Association.
In 1992, the City of Seattle designated Maynard Avenue South as a “green street.”
Current plans call for widening the sidewalk on the east side of Maynard by 7 feet, with trees planted and possibly concrete planter boxes, benches and artwork installed on the expanded sidewalk. The art directors for the Project, Steve Badanes, a UW architecture professor and director of the Neighborhood Design Build Studio; and Rumi Takahashi, with Weinstein Architects and Urban Designers; solicited comments on what type of artwork should be included in the Green Street Project. Badanes and his Studio designed the Community Garden and the “Fremont Troll.”
The goals of the Project, Im said, are to “create a better pedestrian environment,” and for the Green Street Project to serve as a “gateway to Nihonmachi.” Seattle’s Japanese American community was clustered around Main Street in the area called “Nihonmachi” or “Japantown” prior to World War II. Key present-day sites that are “restoring a sense of place to Nihonmachi” are the Panama Tea House, the Nihonmachi Terrace family apartments and the NP Hotel, Im said. A “green” Maynard Avenue will guide pedestrians to the Danny Woo International District Community Garden, which is often considered “the nicest garden in all of downtown,” he said.
The remade street with improved lighting would serve as a “visual key – that something important [the Garden] is up there,” Im said.
The latest design for the “green street” requires parallel parking on both sides of Maynard Avenue, which would eliminate angle parking on the Avenue’s east side that now exists. The conversion to parallel parking will result in the loss of six to seven parking spaces.
“We will lose parking, but enhance the pedestrian environment,” Im said.
Urban design plans for the Green Street Project were being developed since 2003, Im said. During 2004, a “holistic approach” was added, said Brent Butler, sustainability volunteer with the Project. Included in that approach is “hydrology,” or capturing rainwater on the roof of Nihonmachi Terrace, and then channeling the water through planters on the sidewalk. Butler said there is 14,400 sq. feet of “harvestable water” that collects on the Terrace’s roof. Solar panels already in place atop the Terrace will provide electricity for the apartment complex. Even though the panels will not generate great amounts of electricity, educating the public about solar power and hydrology is equally important, he said.
During 2005, Inter*Im decided “let’s go ahead and go for it,” Im said. The design for the “green” Maynard Avenue is still being finalized, however a “Rice Terrace Steps” concept has been eliminated since standing water posed the threat of insect-borne diseases such as West Nile Virus, Badanes said.
A number of city and county agencies, including the city Department of Neighborhoods, have contributed funding to make the $400,000 Project possible. Construction will begin this summer, with completion of the Project targeted for October 2007.
Im said future plans include making Maynard Avenue a “green street” all the way to Hing Hay Park on South King Street in five to seven years..