Water Feature, Performance Space Being Considered for Civic Campus Plaza
Original plans for the new City Hall included a plaza to extend this facility outdoors and to provide public park space. This plaza was removed from the city hall levy to meet budget constraints, but planned as a future improvement to help the new City Hall serve as an anchor for downtown Mountlake Terrace.
The 2007 Town Center Plan called for a Town Center Park, often referred to as “Town Square, in the block bound by 58th Ave W, 56th Ave W, 232nd St SW, and 234th St SW. (This block has also been known as the superblock because it allows the most intense development - up to 7 stories.) The purpose of the park would be to attract people downtown, be used by employees and customers of downtown businesses, as well as serving the entire community. It would also help mitigate impacts that would be generated by future residential, office and commercial development anywhere in the city.
When development occurs, the city collects impact fees from the developer. These fees are used by the City for park and transportation projects. From 2007 to 2016, all park impact fees were set aside for the Town Center Park. The cost estimate in 2007 for the Town Center Park was $3.8 million, but this fund currently has about $660,000 - much less than what was originally anticipated due to the Great Recession’s impact on development. Over the past several years, the City has approached several property owners in the superblock in an attempt to purchase property for the Town Center Park with the impact fees, but recent land cost escalation have put that out of reach considering the balance of the existing fund.
At the August 6 City Council meetings, the Council adopted an ordinance to designate the $660,000 in impact fees to be used for the Civic Campus Plaza. At the August 23 City Council meeting, the Council will consider a resolution to add master planning of the Civic Campus Plaza to ARC Architect’s scope of work. Master planning will allow the Civic Plaza design to be integrated with the City Hall design and provide preliminary cost estimates for the plaza.
Current plans by ARC Architects propose a City Hall that is oriented towards the outdoor plaza, while the ongoing refresh of the Town Center plan calls for Veteran’s Park and the Civic Plaza as the “heart” of the town center. This provides a great opportunity for an outdoor public space for community events in a very central location in our town. Amenities such as a water feature and outdoor performance space have been discussed.
In other cities and towns in our region, public plazas like this serve as a community focal point. Here are a few examples:
Burien has placed a splash park in its central location
The streets near Kent Station host an outdoor fireplace and gathering center.
Occidental Park hosts tables, outdoor yard games, and concerts during the summer.
The Kenmore Hangar has a splash park and and outdoor seating area.
The Piazza degli Signori in Florence hosts Renaissance art, plus large numbers of tourists
With the commercial focus of the ground floor in the Town Center plan, the opportunity for this corner to serve as a gathering spot for civic activities and an amenity for surrounding retail establishments makes this an important part of the downtown.