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“Waterfront for All”: Connecting communities around the new Waterfront Park Project

Posted January 10, 2024

Where a double-decker freeway once created a physical and visual barrier through Seattle’s waterfront, a new, 20-acre park will reconnect neighborhoods and reunite downtown Seattle with the water and the local community.

Seattle’s new Waterfront Park’s design, shaped by input from tens of thousands of voices gathered through an extensive public process, will fulfill the community’s vision of a central waterfront for all and contribute to the restoration of the nearshore environment.

Waterfront Park construction is led by City of Seattle’s Office of Waterfront and Civic Projects, coordinating all waterfront improvement efforts including project management, design, and financial management. Working in partnership, Friends of Waterfront Seattle is a 501c3 not for profit responsible for fundraising, stewarding, and programming around the project.

Since 2019, with support from the Seattle Foundation, the Pike Place Market Foundation has been collaborating with Friends of Waterfront Seattle, and the Seattle Aquarium on ‘Waterfront for All’, a multi-year effort to attract and break down barriers for the immediate neighbors of the Waterfront. 

As we prepare for Park completion in 2025 when Pike Place Market will finally be connected to the Seattle Waterfront, our collective has fortified a shared vision that provides a safe, inclusive, accessible, and resilient space for all communities, particularly communities that have been historically excluded, disadvantaged and under-resourced. This past year, we have renewed our efforts to intentionally engage with our adjacent neighborhoods to co-design a healthy and equitable Waterfront Park community, space, and economy.


Renderings by Field Operations

The Overlook Walk, a prominent feature of Waterfront Park, will be an elevated pathway seamlessly connecting Pike Place Market to the Waterfront. This architectural marvel, with its expansive views of Elliott Bay, informal play areas, public plazas, and landscaping, will be a symbolic bridge between Seattle’s urban core and its natural beauty. 

In 2023, our “Waterfront for All” collective did extensive outreach within the Pike Place Market and North Waterfront Park business and residential communities to assess cultural, economic, and social development opportunities for the project, resulting in over 400 interactions with residents, farmers, businesses, and community members. A testament to community vision, this walkway is designed to be open, accessible, and environmentally conscious. It is the embodiment of Seattle residents’ choice to improve the Waterfront for the greater good. 

By hosting a series of focus groups with Market community members, distributing surveys and connecting one-on-one in the Market, we collected feedback and ideas from community members who will be most impacted by the Waterfront Park expansion.  Here are a few of the highlights: 

What is the community most excited about regarding the Waterfront expansion? 

  • Increased foot traffic to Market 
  • Positive economic impact on local businesses 
  • Opportunity to foster stronger relationships 

How can Friends of Waterfront Seattle use these spaces to bring all these districts, which will be intersecting the Market, Aquarium and park, together and create a unified Waterfront Park? – (Belltown through CID) 

  • Enhance wayfinding throughout all corridors of Waterfront Park 
  • Create a tourist discovery experience 
  • Collaborate with tour companies 

Illustration by Timothy Corey of Colibri Facilitation 

 In June 2017, Pike Place Market opened the new MarketFront expansion with a pivotal role to both expand opportunities for businesses, residents and social services in Pike Place Market, but to also become the link to the upcoming Overlook Walk and the Seattle Aquarium’s Ocean Pavilion.  

Seattle Aquarium’s Ocean Pavilion: A Gateway to the Indo-Pacific 

Renderings by Field Operations

Scheduled to open this summer, the Seattle Aquarium’s Ocean Pavilion is a key component of this transformative project. The Ocean Pavilion will immerse visitors in Coral Triangle ecosystems on the other side of the Pacific Ocean, highlighting the fact that Earth’s shared waters connect people, animals and ecosystems. With critical public features like a new elevator and a publicly accessible rooftop park linking to the Overlook Walk, the Ocean Pavilion aims to be a gathering place for all. 

The Ocean Pavilion’s public plaza is designed to provide a glimpse into its largest habitat, and anyone who passes through the park will be able to see a tropical reef ecosystem without purchasing a ticket. Here, Aquarium staff and volunteers will share knowledge, and public art created by glass artist Dan Friday of the Lummi Nation will adorn the space, paying tribute to the Coast Salish people who have stewarded these lands and waters since time immemorial and who continue to do so today. 

A Year of Milestones Ahead 

Illustration by Timothy Corey of Colibri Facilitation 

 As the Waterfront Park inches closer to completion, the Pike Place Market Foundation is deeply grateful for the collaboration with Friends of Waterfront Seattle and the Seattle Aquarium to involve the Market community—business owners, workers, and residents—every step of the way. 

In the year ahead, as construction progresses, our goal is to continue our series of focus groups and learn from other communities to ensure that residents, businesses, and partners will all benefit from Waterfront Park. With our partners, we look forward to integrating the input we hear into our planning, informing next steps on how we can all come together as a unified Waterfront community. 

In the new year, we encourage you to visit the MarketFront and witness Waterfront Park coming to life. This project is not just about reshaping the city’s skyline; it’s about building bridges—connecting communities, fostering understanding, and creating a space that belongs to everyone! 

Renderings by Field Operations

Learn more about our “Waterfront for All” partners: 

Friends of Waterfront Seattle

Seattle Aquarium 

Questions about design and construction of the park? Contact:

 Office of the Waterfront and Civic ProjectS



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