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Hints for Successful Business District Improvements
Beautification Projects
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Additional Information

Create a Thriving Business District


Murals, statues and fountains identify a neighborhood’s character and can become landmarks for the district. Art projects can also take many forms; for example, Belltown uses trash cans to create public art and “brand” the neighborhood.

The Public Art Roadmap
website is a great resource for public art projects. This guide, published by the Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs, explains how to create a public artwork from beginning to end and describes typical issues that frequently arise for common types of projects.

If you plan to paint or build on public property (such as underpasses or sidewalks) call Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT). David Chew, 206-684-8325, coordinates murals on bridges, retaining walls owned by SDOT and other roadway structures.

Other on-street art is coordinated by Annual Permits at (206) 684-5267. If the project will be on private property, you will need written permission from the property owner and your agreement should specify who is responsible for maintenance. In either public or private situations, you will need a detailed design to show the owner or the City.

There are different ways to proceed with a public art project for your district, depending on the location and scale of work you envision. Common steps in the process include:

  1. Choose a site.
  2. Get permission from owner and/or Seattle Department of Transportation if placing in the street right-of-way.
  3. Hold a community meeting to get support and fulfill public process requirements.
  4. Hold an open selection for an artist, providing some fee if holding a proposal-based competition.
  5. Raise money for materials, construction or painting, permitting and artist fee.
  6. Build/create project.
  7. Hold an “unveiling” with press release.
Frequently asked questions:

Where can we get funds to support such a project?

Department of Neighborhoods has the Neighborhood Matching Fund, which is available for such projects. For more information about the Matching Fund Program see the Funding section of this guide or visit : or contact program staff at 206-684-0464. A grant from DON does not preclude the need to secure street use permits for any art work in the public right-of-way.

All art in the right-of-way that is not owned by the City requires an annual permit and insurance or indemnity agreement.

See the Public Art Roadmap

Can we work with private developers to install art?

Yes, developers who are putting up new buildings can be a good source for obtaining a free site for an art piece because it shows their commitment to the community and it will most likely enhance their property value.

Benefits and challenges of public art projects:


  • Increases community pride and identification.
  • Creates a landmark that people throughout the city will recognize.
  • Provides vibrancy to public spaces.
  • Enriches neighborhoods by presenting images of local culture and heritage.
  • Brings people from the area together, especially if there is public participation in the project.
  • Requires a source of funding to pay artist and buy materials.
  • Requires volunteer time and/or money to complete public process and agency approval.
  • May be a target for vandalism.
  • Requires long-term maintenance.
  • Can be difficult to choose the design. To avoid conflicts, use the selection process model used by the Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs and 4Culture formerly the Cultural Development Authority of King County. See the Public Art Roadmap for more information.