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Council Approves $34M So Pike Place Market Can Expand Westward

The Pike Place Market is going to expand westward.

On Monday, a Seattle City Council committee agreed to pay $34 million from the general fund to build new vendor stalls, senior housing and a public plaza.

The other half of the money comes from tax breaks, grants and philanthropists. The project is part of a larger effort to reconnect the market with the waterfront.

KUOW’s Joshua McNichols has more.


Back in the 1900s, a day at the Pike Place Market started at the waterfront, a little north of today’s Seattle Aquarium.

Ben Franz Knight is with the Pike Place Market Preservation and Development Authority. He looks out at the water and imagines farmers coming in from the Kitsap Peninsula and Vashon Island.

Franz Knight: “You moved most of your goods here by boat to the Seattle waterfront. And then from there, they were carried by cart, by a series of wooden trestles, up to the market where goods were sold. And this included cattle.”

Part way up the hill, some farmers would peel off to place extra produce in a giant cold storage warehouse. Today, it’s full of restaurants and offices.

A little higher up, ranchers would exit the trestle and lead their cattle down a wooden ramp into the lower levels of the market for slaughter. The cattle ramp is still there.

Then, in the late 1940s, the Alaskan Way Viaduct was built, slicing through much of the connective tissue linking the waterfront and the market.

Franz Knight: “As you stand here and look at it, you can hear the cars, you can imagine what it did to the way these spaces truly connected.”

Franz Knight and I emerge through the backdoor of the Pike Place Market. We stand at a ribbon of windows looking back at the viaduct, and beyond that, the waterfront. Immediately beneath us is a parking lot. The Pike Place Market will expand into that space, with its plaza and new vendor stalls. After the viaduct comes down, a grand staircase will connect that expansion to the waterfront.

Franz Knight: “It really becomes a new entrance to the Pike Place Market and a brand new connection.”

Most vendors at the market seem happy about the project. Kristin Schwartz sells jewelry here, except on the days when she shows up to find that the tables are full.

Schwartz: “Yes, that’s happened to me several times. It’s frustrating, especially on a weekend, when you’re planning on that income – or some income at least.”

After the project is finished, Schwartz should have better luck finding space.

Monday, the Central Waterfront, Seawall, and Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program Select Committee, which includes all Seattle City Council members, unanimously approved funds for the project.

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