Three blocks from Denny Way north would be renamed Seventh Avenue North. One block from Denny Way south would be renamed Borealis Avenue.
A section of Aurora Avenue may soon have a new name, but not without a small reminder of what used to be.
A Seattle City Council committee voted 4-0 Tuesday to rename two sections of Aurora Avenue in South Lake Union. The full council will vote on the name change Monday.
The change would affect a four-block stretch of Aurora Avenue North between Harrison and Battery streets. Three blocks from Denny Way north would be renamed Seventh Avenue North. The block from Denny Way south would be renamed Borealis Avenue to avoid a conflict with nearby Seventh Avenue.
Several community organizations, including the South Lake Union Chamber of Commerce and South Lake Union Community Council, requested the renaming. Community groups said the move would return the street to the name it held before Highway 99 was built. Mayor Jenny Durkan transmitted the bill to the council.
The proposed change comes as the roadway is set to be rebuilt as part of the replacement of the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a new Highway 99 tunnel. The new tunnel’s north portal is on Harrison Street between Sixth Avenue North and Aurora Avenue North.
Beginning in February, crews will fill and seal the Battery Street Tunnel and rebuild several streets in South Lake Union. The new Aurora Avenue (soon to be Seventh Avenue North) will have two lanes in each direction and transit lanes, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT). The project will also reopen Harrison Street east-west and reconnect Thomas and John Streets where they were previously divided by Highway 99.
“The renaming is also part of the reclaiming of that area back into the community,” said Danah Abarr, executive director of the South Lake Union Chamber of Commerce.
Mike McQuaid, transportation chair of the South Lake Union Community Council, said his group worked with property owners in the area, some of whom believed there are “negative connotations associated with Aurora Avenue.” Aurora Avenue in North Seattle has historically been home to poorer residents of Seattle and services for people experiencing homelessness or engaged in sex work.
“Property owners along that corridor wanted to more closely align with downtown,” McQuaid said.
The name change would take effect after the council passes the bill and the mayor signs it. The street will be rebuilt in phases to keep at least one lane open in each direction, according to WSDOT. Construction is scheduled to be finished in mid-2020.