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It’s Not A Parking Lot, It’s A Magical Green Urban Oasis!

2011 April 19
by dan bertolet

< Rendering of proposed parking lot at 751 Marion St; image: Mithun - click to enlarge >

The Daliesque rendering shown above depicts what the Polyclinic proposes to put in the full-block hole in the ground bounded by Marion, Spring, 7th, and 8th on the west edge of First Hill. Pretty dreamy, no? But I guess it was me that was dreaming when I thought Seattle was done building giant, single-use parking lots in the core of the City.

Today the site provides about 220 surface parking stalls. The Polyclinic is moving into the office building at 7th and Madison that has been empty since completed in 2009, and they want more and better parking next door. The plans (big pdf) call for a surface lot flush with grade on the west half of the block, and a multilevel structure on the east half, for a total of 400 stalls.

< Looking north across the 751 Marion lot to the Landes Apartments, right, and the 7th and Madison office bulding, left; photo: Dan Bertolet >

I get it that the new lot will be an improvement over what’s there now; that people will be relying on cars for decades to come; that if you have to put a parking lot somewhere, locating it next to I-5 is a good option; that the lot will enable productive use of the office building; and that the designers have applied innovative solutions. I get all that, but still find it discouraging that this is the best we can manage to do, given our dire need to wean Seattle away from car-dependence.

Because over the long-term, the overall negative impact of dedicating land with such a high location efficiency to the single use of parking will vastly outweigh any short term benefits. As I have described previously, when we invest in more infrastructure for cars, we not only encourage more car use, but we also sabotage mobility by walking, biking, and transit.

No matter how much green lipstick we put on the pig, the parking lot is still a pig (no offense to pigs, which are fine animals). So in the interest of honest representation, what I’d like to see added to that groovy, surreal rendering above is a gigantic, shimmering exhaust pipe hovering in the gray-green sky, belching out tons of CO2 to the heavens above. Any Photoshoppers out there interested in taking a crack at that?