Urban Renewal: Yesler-Atlantic "T"

In 1959, a City ordinance designated the area "bounded by Yesler Way, Empire Way South, Lake Way, Rainier Avenue South, and 14th Avenue South" a "blighted area" and proposed an urban renewal project -- the 340-acre Yesler-Atlantic Neighborhood Improvement Project -- which would fund "rehabilitation, redevelopment, or a combination thereof" with federal dollars. The City was authorized to apply for $89,200 to fund plans and surveys of the area; this figure was later amended to $137,854. A $2 million capital grant was requested to demolish decaying structures and construct and install "streets, utilities, parks, playgrounds...public buildings or facilities..."; displaced families would be relocated.

In 1959, when the federal government expressed concern about the costs of funding the entire project, the area to be improved was divided into two sections (the Yesler-Atlantic "U" and the "T," so named for the shape of the areas covered). The 137-acre "T" was selected as the first to undergo development because a large non-cash grant would accrue from the construction of the New Washington Junior High School in the "T" area. Survey and planning of the area began in 1960.

In 1966, a new plan for the Yesler-Atlantic neighborhood was approved; structural inspections and an economic feasibility study were carried out, and a new project plan was created. A public hearing was scheduled for discussion of the new plan, and some property owners petitioned to have the hearing delayed on the grounds that the City Council had not made known the special procedures that applied to urban renewal hearings. Although their request was denied, the resulting litigation would delay the start of the project until 1968. In 1968, the project received HUD approval. By 1973, 42 homes had been rehabilitated, new complexes had been constructed, and a new park had been completed.

At a four-day Committee of the Whole meeting held in September 1967, residents expressed their concerns and support for the project. The hearings started on September 11 and continued on September 15, 16 and 18. Mary Collins spoke on September 18.

Citations for Multimedia Segment

Audio

  • Committee of the Whole Public Hearing (September 18, 1967), Event 83, Record Series 4601-03

Photographs

Maps

Documents

  • CF 259286 Hearing Transcripts, Volumes I through V (September 11-16, 1967), Record Series 1802-B5, Box 3, Folders 6-9

Sources for Further Research

Textual Records

Audio

  • Committee of the Whole (September 11, 1967), Event 78, Record Series 4601-03
  • Committee of the Whole (September 15, 1981), Event 81, Record Series 4601-03
  • Committee of the Whole (September 16, 1967), Event 82, Record Series 4601-03

Photographs