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Unpaving Paradise

Unpaving Paradise is exactly what it's name implies: previously a surface parking lot, in 2010 the site was developed into a park and community garden with funding support from the 2008 Parks and Green Space Levy. This 37-plot P-Patch is now an urban oasis at the heart of one of Seattle's densest neighborhoods.

Unpaving Paradise Garden


Unpaving Paradise site in 1937, from Puget Sound Regional ArchivesThe half-block site that is now the Unpaving Paradise P-Patch has a long and winding history. As Seattle began to grow following the Alaska Gold Rush, many wealthy citizens built their mansions of the Western slope of Capitol Hill. This somewhat rural hill provided respite from the busy city along with unparalleled views of Puget Sound and the Olympics. However, with a growing population on Capitol Hill, developers saw an opportunity to provide some upper middle class housing close to the heart of the city. The Unpaving Paradise site was developed into four single family homes between 1906 and 1912.

Plaid Piper Ad in Seattle Times 1960In the post war era, the neighborhood housed one of Seattle's hotest eateries, The Plaid Piper Restaurant and Tartan Room. Just across the street from Unpaving Paradise (currently a Starbucks) this Scottish-themed venue was a regular hang out for many of Seattle's movers and shakers. Beginning in the late 1950's it also hosted a lively music scene under the leadership of popular organist and part-owner Dick Schrum.

Unfortunately the middle of the century also saw many Seattlite's depart the city for quieter suburban communities, leaving their single family homes vacant. Through the 1960's the four houses that stood on the UnpavingUnpaving Paradise site in 1958, from Puget Sound Regional ArchivesParadise site were all purchased by Plaid Piper co-owner George Di Julio. He divided the homes into apartments and rented them out as convenient housing for young workers just starting their careers in downtown Seattle. In 1971, with the waning popularity of the Plaid Piper, Di Julio demolished the four homes to make room for a new parking lot, hoping to attract patrons from a wider area. Unfortunately his plan did not work and the Plaid Piper went under shortly after.

The site remained a parking lot for the next three decades, as Capitol Hill went from a grungy inner-city neighborhood in the 1980's, to a bustling urban village in the 1990's. In 2000, Seattle Parks and Recreation purchased the land with funding from Pro Parks Levy, a levy that was intended to add more park space to growing areas of the city. The initial park design called for some grass and landscaping but members from the community saw the new park as an opportunity to create gardens for the many apartment dwellers in the area. Through the leadership of the Capitol Hill Community Council, the community was able to gain widespread support for the new community garden from individuals, local businesses, and other neighborhood groups. In 2008, the community's efforts paid off with the city allocating $150,000 to the garden from the 2008 Parks and Green Space Levy. The funds helped the park meet its full vision with garden beds, hose bibs and other parks amenities.

Moving Soil into P-Patch,  December 2010Beginning in the Fall of 2010 the community finally began transforming the aging parking lot into a P-Patch. After breaking up and removing the concrete, the community was responsible for filling the new site with new soil. As the first snows began to fall in November, community members hauled a full 120 yards of compost and organic earth onto the site in a single weekend. In May 2011 the Unpaving Paradise P-Patch was officially dedicated, but it took another six months to finish building the shed and compost bins. The P-Patch was finally completed in December 2011. Today visitors can enjoy the garden's bountiful flowers and produce in front of a unique backdrop of the Seattle skyline.

View from the P-Patch, Spring 2011


Levy Logo


200 Summit Ave E


Size: 4600
Established: 2010
Number of plots: 31
Plot Size: 100 sq'
Average wait: 2 years
Ownership of land: Seattle Parks & Recreation

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