Mar 29, 2024 - News

$3 million from state advances Garfield Super Block

A rendering of the block around Garfield High School in Seattle with an art walk and new play areas.

Rendering of the proposed Garfield Super Block. Courtesy of the Site Workshop, Seattle Design Commission and Garfield Super Block Coalition

With $3 million recently allocated by state legislators to develop the Garfield "Super Block" — an accessible art and amenity-filled park and promenade in the heart of Seattle's Central District — officials say the project is on track to break ground next year.

Why it matters: The block around Garfield and Nova high schools in the historically Black neighborhood has long been a draw for Seattle's young people and the redo promises to make the space more useable and attractive, said Rebecca Bear, president of the nonprofit Seattle Parks Foundation.

What they're saying: Khosla told Axios the project's goal is to highlight the history and legacy of the neighborhood.

  • It "is a sacred space," she said.

Friction point: But the public bathrooms near the high schools are old, the lighting is bad, accessibility is poor and the area's reputation is marred by shootings that have occurred over the years, Bear told Axios.

  • The improvements will make the area safer, more appealing and open it up to the whole community, she said.
  • Mayor Bruce Harrell lauded the project as creating "an accessible, multi-generational gathering space for residents and families."

Catch up quick: The keystone of the project, which has been 20 years in the making, is the Legacy and Promise Promenade, an art-dotted pathway around the park connecting the schools, the Quincy Jones Performing Arts Center, Medgar Evers Pool and the Garfield Community Center.

  • Until recently, the Central District was primarily home to minorities and immigrants because it originally was redlined, said Bear.
  • The art is intended to reflect a mural inside Garfield High School that celebrates the contributions to the Central District of seven historically prominent communities: Duwamish, Jewish, African-American, Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, and Italian, according to the project's website.

State of play: The superblock is also slated to get new ball fields, a new playground with a water area, basketball courts, new bathrooms, a concession stand, an accessibility ramp and the city's first parkour park, per the plans.

Follow the money: About $10 million of the projected $11.5 million needed has been raised, per the coalition, including:

  • Construction funding of $5 million from Seattle Parks and Recreation and Seattle Public Schools, and $2 million from a federal grant.
  • Two grants from King County, and the recent allocation from the state.
  • A $475,000 grant from the Seattle Department of Transportation for right-of-way improvements.

What's next: Private donations of $1.5 million are being sought to fund the art and installation, said Bear.

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