That’s it for Seattle’s old Waterfront Park.
The city of Seattle closed it last week after discovering Pier 58 had shifted, leaving a gap between the pier and the land. The city now says the park won’t reopen until the pier is replaced and a park redesign that’s already in progress is completed.
Officials have long known that the pier would eventually need to be replaced, representatives of the city’s parks, transportation and waterfront departments said during a remote news conference on Tuesday.
Funding for the park redesign and pier replacement has already been secured and isn’t in jeopardy, said Marshall Foster, director of the Office of the Waterfront and Civic Projects.
The city is 60% through the design phase, he said.
Removal of the pier will happen as soon as possible, but rebuilding the park won’t be rushed, the officials said. Construction remains scheduled to begin in 2022, with completion expected in 2024.
Seattle officials closed Waterfront Park between the Seattle Aquarium and Great Wheel last week after crews checking on a waterline issue discovered the pier had shifted several inches, leaving a visible gap, said Jesús Aguirre, superintendent of Seattle Parks and Recreation.
The 50-year-old pier was slated for replacement in 2022 as part of the larger redesign of the waterfront after the Alaskan Way Viaduct was removed. That project was already in the design stage. The Parks Department said in a statement that “natural forces have accelerated” the pier’s deterioration and plans for it are being re-evaluated.
Parks Department spokesperson Rachel Schulkin said there’s not yet a solid cost estimate for the project, which would be funded through a tax on downtown property owners for the city’s waterfront plan.
The city declined to pursue repairs recommended in 2006 because of the cost and plans for changing the waterfront area. Instead, it put in place load restrictions, according to the pier’s most recent evaluation in 2016 by engineering firm Seattle Structural.
The city has been monitoring the pier for shifts to see when “replacement may become urgent,” according to the Parks Department. Crews repaired transition plates at the pier last year and in 2017.
Another public pier that is being replaced, Pier 62, is expected to open later this year.
The seawall is separate from Pier 58 and has not shifted and is good shape, said Seattle Department of Transportation director Sam Zimbabwe.