Architect John Kirksey has an idea for building a park on 36 blocks in south Downtown — just north of the Pierce Elevated, between Louisiana and Caroline. But he doesn’t own the land, and he’s not proposing to buy it up. So Kirksey’s plan isn’t for a single park space — it’s for a bunch of linear walkways. Okay, call it a series of extra-wide sidewalks on the east-west streets. Here’s how it might look, driving through:
Most of this section of Downtown — south of Clay St. — isn’t tied into the tunnel system, and good portions of it remain undeveloped. Since 2000, shortly before construction began for the new light rail line along Main St., car traffic on the east-west streets has dropped considerably. So why not take away a lane or 2 of traffic from those 5-lane streets, Kirksey suggests — and perk up the sidewalks with some wider, greener, and more pedestrian- and bike-friendly spaces — like these?
Kirksey’s original proposal, which his firm first floated almost a year ago, was a bit bolder, and the results would probably have been more park-like: Instead of grabbing 6 ft. of street width from each side of the east-west streets, he wanted owners of adjacent land to contribute 10-ft.-wide strips of their own property; he’d combine that with 10 ft. from the traffic lanes to create roomy 35-ft.-wide pedestrian zones on the south sides of each street.
(The north sides would have stayed as they are.) He argued that landowners would likely be automatically compensated for their donations of land by a resulting increase in land values:
Apparently, that idea didn’t fly with the owners.
Here’s a video of Kirksey’s full presentation. The first part, from last May, includes a fly-through of the original park concept at the 12:08 mark; a minute and a half later, it’s updated to the current proposal:
- CBD Vision 36 update [Vimeo]
Images: Kirksey Architecture