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A modern expanse of glass and wood timbers will be the public face of the new building and view plazas the Pike Place Market is planning for its connection to the proposed waterfront park.

Market officials and the design team Miller Hull released schematic drawings last week of the project along Western Avenue just south of Victor Steinbrueck Park. It includes 30,000 square feet of new public view terraces overlooking Elliott Bay and the Olympic Mountains, a flexible commercial space that will showcase local food producers, space for restaurants with outdoor seating and Market day stalls leading to a pedestrian walkway that descends to the waterfront.

Glass canopies will cover the outdoor walkways and vendors.

The project, the Pike Place Market Waterfront Entrance, will rise on a city-owned parking lot where the former Municipal Market burned down in 1974.

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“The Market has been moving toward this for 40 years and now we’re finally doing it. It will be one of the strongest connections to the waterfront from downtown,” said Ben-Franz Knight, executive director of the Pike Place Market Preservation and Development Authority.

The Market project, estimated to cost between $60 million and $68 million, will be one of the first pieces undertaken of the proposed waterfront park planned for after the Highway 99 Viaduct is removed. The city plans to transform a 26-block stretch along Elliott Bay into landscaping, bike and walking trails, public gathering spaces and new connections to the shoreline and to downtown.

The Market Waterfront Entrance will link two of the city’s most popular tourist destinations, the historic farmer’s market and the Seattle Aquarium.

A preliminary study is under way of a Local Improvement District that would assess property owners who will benefit from the new development to help fund the construction of the new park, said Marshall Foster, Seattle planning director.

Up to $40 million levied through the LID would go to build the waterfront entrance.

Additional money for the project includes about $7 million from the city, $5 million from the state for a new 300-car parking garage below Western Avenue and about $16 million from the Market PDA, including $9 million for a 40-unit low-income-housing complex for seniors.

Construction could start next year.

Some Market craftspeople are cautiously optimistic that the new design preserves most of the current views south to the stadiums and Mount Rainier and west to Puget Sound. But they worry that the modern style of glass, wood and steel doesn’t fit the funky look of the historic Market buildings.

“I’m excited and apprehensive,” said Ann Brown, who has sold leather purses and bags at the Market for 28 years. “It’s the new generation of the Market and it’s going to be different, but I hope it still has some soul. So far, I don’t see much soul.”

Another longtime Market craftsman, Haley Land, who has participated in design discussions with the architects and other Market merchants, said he’d like to see more varied external finishes.

“The Market was built over time in a variety of styles, colors and textures. I’d like to see a similar variety in the new development,” Land said.

Foster said he thinks the new Market development will re-create the energy of small vendors and retailers and add to it “a drop-dead view” along the project’s Western edge.

“It’s going to become so woven into the fabric of the Market and the waterfront that we’ll forget it wasn’t always there,” he said.

Lynn Thompson: or 206-464-8305. On Twitter @lthompsontimes

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