I was walking to light rail yesterday when I noticed that the alley behind the station is a perfect straight shot to El Centro—it almost frames the building like a painting. I had not thought about this alley much in the past. I imagined it someday being a little-used space filled with dumpsters and graffiti, tucked between two large condo buildings where the only use it might get would be the occasional employee taking a smoke break.
But seeing it yesterday helped me re-imagine the space. What if instead of it being a forgotten space behind some buildings, it became Beacon Hillâ€™s Post Alley filled with micro businesses? It could be an extension of the planned courtyard at El Centro and a useful arm of Festival Street. For those of you that donâ€™t get downtown much, Post Alley is an offshoot of the Pike Place Market. It is a pedestrian-friendly sort of mini-market where many smaller businesses have been able to take root in its less-than-prime real estate. It includes Seattleâ€™s famous gum wall.Rarely do neighborhoods get a chance to redefine their “downtown” the way that Beacon Hill will with light-rail and El Centroâ€™s future development, and I’m hoping that with imagination and thoughtful planning, we will be able to maximize our potential.
Joel Lee maintains the Beacon Hill Public Art website.
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