Don’t look now, but the retail kiosk that the Seattle Parks Department has spent a year and $100,000 planning at Occidental Park over loud objections may not be built at all.
But that’s not because Pioneer Square residents and business owners demanded the return of the park’s glass-topped pergola, which the Parks Department now admits it destroyed instead of mothballing after the park’s controversial remodel in March 2006. At that time, 17 of the park’s trees were cut down and its benches and cobblestones removed and, with them, the homeless who slept there.
No, the 625-foot future coffee shop or flower stand — Parks is designing the building without a known tenant or use — may not be built now, according to Parks Project Manager Patrick Donohue, because a 10-story building that developer Greg Smith plans across the street from Occidental Park may provide what the kiosk is supposed to: lighting and activity.
Now that Smith has applied for permits to build his 200 Occidental project, Donohue said at a Nov. 20 public workshop on the kiosk’s design, Parks has been having discussions whether to move forward with the kiosk. The department had a budget of $100,000 to design the kiosk and $200,000 to build it. That’s money that the city could, in theory, redirect to pay for lighting or other amenities at or near Smith’s project, which, on its ground level, will house a restaurant and the service shop for waterfront streetcars, with offices, condos, or hotel suites above.
Even if the kiosk does move forward next spring as planned, the two design alternatives shown Nov. 20 to the four people who attended the meeting were of large, glass-enclosed boxes that did not impress Shawn Jezerinac, facilities manager at the nearby Pioneer Building.
“I don’t like either choice,” Jezerinac says. “The reason is because they’re building a building without a purpose and that doesn’t make sense to me. It’s a waste of taxpayer money.”
Jezerinac’s boss, Richard Sikora, owner of the Pioneer Building, is one of many who lobbied Parks to return the pergola, which Sikora admits wasn’t historic — it was part of the rustic-looking square created in 1972 by designers Grant and Ilze Jones. But it was part of the area, he says, and should be restored.
“A lot of people want to see [the pergola] put back where it was,” Sikora says. “A lot of people liked Occidental Park better than when the mayor started fooling around with it.”