What Seattle gets out of Amazon's new construction

SEATTLE — Amazon has requested to buy another public alley, in order to build a set of high-rises in the block bordered by 7th Avenue, Bell Street, 8th Avenue and Blanchard Street.

In exchange, the company is required to deliver certain public benefits.

This is the fourth alley vacation the company has asked for in the Denny Triangle area.

“No one gets a street or an alley free. They have to give a lot back to the city, and it also cannot impact traffic,” said Tom Rasmussen, a Seattle City Council member.

The proposal passed the transportation committee Tuesday and will now go before the full Council.

The previous three public alleys were each about 5,700 square feet and cost Amazon $5 million apiece. In those instances, the company also pledged the following:

  1. 7th Avenue cycle track
  2. Shared-use street/enhanced pedestrian facilities
  3. Westlake Avenue street improvement
  4. 10-foot setback on Blanchard Street
  5. Other voluntary setbacks
  6. Enhanced right-of-way improvements
  7. Art program
  8. Additional overhead weather protection
  9. Fourth streetcar
  10. Contribution to future neighborhood park

With the latest proposal, Amazon offers the following:

  1. 12,000 sq. ft. 8th Avenue Hillclimb
  2. Blanchard Street setback
  3. Bell Street setback
  4. 7th Avenue improvements and cycle track
  5. 8th Avenue improvements
  6. Blanchard Street improvements
  7. Bell Street improvements
  8. 8th and Bell intersection
  9. Bell Street cycle track
  10. Bell Street concept plan

The last item would extend Bell Street Park from 5th Avenue, where it currently ends, to Denny Way.

The pedestrian-friendly park currently only allows cars to go one block, before being forced to turn onto a different street.

While the details of the extension are not set, it may be possible that cars would continue to have to follow that rule all the way to Denny Way.

Teresa Schauf, who commutes to Seattle from Camano Island, said, “I think that’s wonderful, but is that going to take away from our parking also?”

Schauf was also concerned about the difficulty in navigating traffic in town, if cars have to avoid Bell Street entirely.

Others who work downtown said the improvements offered by Amazon have made the area much nicer than it used to be.

“A lot of these are really underutilized properties. So to see nice buildings like these goes up, I think it’s good for the city,” said Frank Pebles.

Some also said that allowing Amazon to take over and redevelop some of the public alleyways prevents crime in those areas.

“If you talk back at people who have been here 10 years or 20 years, this used to be the type of place where people wouldn’t go at night,” said Joseph Frostad.

Frostad said Belltown and the Denny Triangle are now much nicer places to live and work.