A plan that would have built an elevated park in downtown Seattle — while effectively killing the city’s waterfront redesign almost a decade in the making — was strongly rejected by voters Tuesday.
A plan that would have built an elevated park in downtown Seattle — while effectively killing the city’s waterfront redesign almost a decade in the making — was soundly rejected by more than 80 percent of voters whose ballots were counted Tuesday.
The city’s plan to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a two-mile waterfront promenade was jeopardized by Initiative 123, spearheaded by former mayoral candidate Kate Martin.
Martin, who raised more than $400,000 and gathered more than 30,000 signatures last year so voters could decide on her idea for a mile-long “garden bridge” that would connect to a restored and retrofitted 400-foot piece of the viaduct, said she would leave politics entirely after the defeat.
“We’re shellacked,” she said. “You don’t come back from 19 percent.”
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She had hoped voters would embrace her idea as Seattle’s version of New York’s High Line park.
James Corner, who designed High Line park and opposed Martin’s initiative, will be the lead architect in the city’s plan, which features broad, landscaped pedestrian bridges and nine acres of parks. Its design was about 60 percent completed last month.
Opponents — including Seattle Parks Foundation and Seattle Aquarium — spent more than $300,000 to defeat the plan and keep the city-supported waterfront plan moving along.
Sandeep Kaushik, a consultant to the “No on I-123” campaign, said he was overwhelmed by the support.
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“I’ve seen a lot of elections and have never seen that kind of margin before,” Kaushik said. “I think the voters have spoken loud and clear here tonight with this election.”
The initiative had no specific funding plan.
Gerry Johnson, an attorney who is also on the board of the nonprofit Friends of Waterfront Seattle, the largest financial contributor to the “No on I-123” campaign, said that the city already has secured state funding for road improvements.
The rest of the project, estimated at slightly more than $700 million, would be largely funded by a proposed property tax on the downtown central business district — the people who will see the most economic benefit from the city’s newest attraction.
Johnson said the city also will rely on philanthropy to help fund the project.