Murray announces engagement plan for King Street Station

Today Mayor Ed Murray announced a public engagement plan to visualize how the city can begin to transform the upper floors of King Street Station into a cultural hub in 2017. Beginning in May, a six-month series of focus groups and public meetings will culminate in a plan that will identify the greatest needs of the Seattle cultural community, using a race and social justice lens.

“King Street Station is an unprecedented opportunity to create a vibrant regional hub for arts and culture,” says Mayor Murray. “This project will preserve a landmark building and provide permanent cultural space in our rapidly growing city. By viewing this project through a race and social justice lens, the new space will draw on the richness of the community all around it – from Pioneer Square, the Chinatown/International District, and beyond.”

The Seattle Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS) in partnership with the Office of Economic Development and Seattle Department of Transportation will create permanent cultural space at King Street Station with a phased opening in 2017 and 2018. A website was launched in support of the project at www.seattle.gov/arts/king-street-station.

Throughout the spring and summer, ARTS will engage in inclusive, city-wide conversations overseen by the Seattle Arts Commission to identify the needs and ideas to create a cultural hub on the upper floors of King Street Station. The public engagement process will utilize the city’s Race and Social Justice Toolkit to equitably make sure the space meets the needs of the community and surrounding neighborhoods. There will be a number of public events to gather community feedback. Following the public conversations, ARTS will draft a King Street Station Cultural Plan and present findings and recommendations to the public next year. This plan further enhances the quality of life component in the ongoing conversation about the Housing Affordability Livability Agenda (HALA) conducted by the Department of Neighborhoods.

“The Chinatown-International District in partnership with Pioneer Square is beginning work on an activation strategy and plan from Little Saigon to the Waterfront. This opportunity will immensely add to the existing programming in benefit of both neighborhoods,” said Cassie Chinn, Deputy Executive Director at the Wing Luke Museum, and Seattle Arts Commissioner. “In the life of our city, this is a critical time for community, arts and culture and businesses to rally together around providing public benefit and access for a broad swath of our residents and visitors.”

“Preserving King Street Station as permanent cultural space is an amazing opportunity,” said Randy Engstrom, director Seattle Office of Arts & Culture. “Not only will King Street Station serve as a transportation hub, it will now be an arts and culture nexus for the region, and will demonstrate to visitors coming to Seattle by rail how the City values arts and culture.”

Funded through an increased admissions tax allocation supported by both Mayor Murray and City Council, the new cultural space will open in phases beginning in mid-2017. The increase in admissions tax allocation also preserves the city’s cultural funding and public art programs, so there will be no cuts to existing ARTS office resources and programs.

King Street Station is a public asset that is an important part of Seattle’s history. It first opened to the public in May 1906. Reed and Stem, the architectural firm responsible for New York City’s historic Grand Central Terminal, designed the station. For over one hundred years it has served as a gateway for millions of travelers coming into Seattle and the Pacific Northwest. The station has spurred economic growth and helped establish Seattle as a major metropolitan city. From 2008 to 2013, King Street Station underwent extensive renovations that restored the building’s historic grandeur, upgraded the facilities and enhanced passenger safety and security.

Photo Credit: Exterior of King Street Station by Ben Benschneider, courtesy of SDOT.