Imagine Greater Downtown

Big ideas for the heart of Seattle.

In 2035, the heart of Seattle will be a place for us all, with diverse neighborhoods, active streets, and inviting public spaces.

As we deconstruct the Alaskan Way Viaduct to foster a great new Waterfront for all, as new light rail lines, tunnels and stations expand our connectivity, and as a new convention center, hotels, offices, and thousands of new homes become a part of our urban fabric, the future begs the question: What’s next? How can we make Greater Downtown even better?

Imagine Greater Downtown identifies what we need to work on now to make sure that the heart of our great city is the best it can be. It is focused on streets as places for public life as well as movement. It is a vision that points us in the direction we want to go. It will guide our next generation of partnership opportunities and planning to ensure that the future heart of Seattle is a place we all love.

The vision framework is the product of hundreds of ideas gathered through community input and shared knowledge from Seattleites, Greater Downtown residents, and staff across coordinating agencies. This vision and ideas for a brighter future would not have been possible without the participation of so many people. Stop trying to imagine Greater Downtown and see it in all its glory.

The Heart of our City and Region

Map of the downtown Seattle neighborhoods

Seattle’s 10 Greater Downtown neighborhoods are at the center of a complex, vital, and growing city and region. What happens in these neighborhoods radiates beyond their boundaries. Public streets, parks, and plazas comprise nearly half the urban fabric, serving to connect and enrich the lives of millions of people each year.

10 unique neighborhoods.

Every neighborhood is unique. Each has histories, character, and places that Seattleites love, cherish, and hope to preserve and celebrate. Each is dynamic, with new people, developments, neighborhood businesses, landmarks, and places to love and call home.

1 greater downtown.

All of these neighborhoods together make one Greater Downtown. Here 15% of Seattle’s residents and half of Seattle’s employees live and work alongside many visitors on just 5% of the city’s land area. Greater Downtown is the heart of Seattle and the region.

7 Big Ideas

Streets We Love, Streets That Work

Create safe, sustainable, and well-organized streets for every form of travel.

  • Connect neighborhoods with people-first streets
  • Create premium networks
  • Enhance the 3rd Ave transit spine
  • Promote safe, sustainable, and zero-emission streets
  • Ready streets for micromobility and other forms of emerging mobility
  • Manage congestion to address climate change and advance equity
  • Facilitate seamless goods delivery

Excellent Transit Experience

Make transit is the preferred mode to access and travel through Greater Downtown.

  • Invest in frequent, reliable transit service corridors
  • Connect Greater Downtown with a network of hop-on, hop-off spines
  • Create a comfortable and convenient transit experience for everyone
  • Provide spaces for art, performance, and public life on the move
  • Expand water transit
  • Achieve affordable and people-centered transit travel
  • Create functional and accessible spaces in the public right-of-way around transit facilities
  • Create great transit station environments

Great Hubs, Active Spaces

Form seamless mobility connections, and reinforce the cultural and community values of accessing crossroads in Greater Downtown.

  • Reinforce hub areas as Seattle’s town squares
  • Create places of convenient connection
  • Integrate plazas and pedestrian connections at the Jackson Hub
  • Cover the BNSF tracks
  • Improve physical and cultural connections
  • Connect plazas to support the growing Westlake Hub

Stitch the I-5 Divide

Reconnect neighborhoods and improve access over, under, and across I-5.

  • Increase open space over I-5
  • Implement a Melrose Promenade 2.0
  • Bring light and purpose to the spaces under I-5
  • Connect north neighborhoods with a Thomas St bridge and overlook
  • Enhance the Harborview overlook
  • Rethink freeway entrances and exits downtown

Greening Greater Downtown

Infuse more parks and nature in the urban landscape.

  • network to meet the needs of the most densely populated neighborhoods
  • Connect with nature, the land, and Native culture
  • Restore habitat and invite nature into Greater Downtown
  • Use trees and rooftops to grow the green canopy

Connect Us to the Water

Bring interactive experiences to the lake, sound, and public spaces.

  • Realize the full Waterfront Seattle vision
  • Trace historic water lines and Indigenous history
  • Get people on the water

Neighborhood Hearts for Community Life

Enhance neighborhoods with inviting places and destination.

  • Create or enhance a community heart in each neighborhood
  • Make the city a canvas to celebrate local culture, topography, and history
  • Adopt policies to promote active and vibrant street life
  • Create spaces to gather and enjoy, by communities, and for communities
  • Bring water to the neighborhoods

5 Next Steps

These next steps are cross-cutting, near-term actions that build on efforts underway and will advance multiple Big Ideas at once.

  1. Advance South Waterfront planning and community discussion
    Advance work on this critical waterfront space with agencies and community partners
  2. Develop a street network study
    Optimize streets to support the mobility needs and public life of all people
  3. Continue transit station and hub collaboration
    Create great places for arrival, connection, and community life at transit station locations in Greater Downtown
  4. Develop neighborhood public life action plans
    Work with neighborhood groups to locate, plan, and activate the civic heart of each neighborhood and other places for public life and community interactions
  5. Transform and activate I-5 overpasses and underpasses
    Create and enhance spaces and connections over and under I-5

The six partner agencies that created this document share a commitment to the heart of Seattle and the people we serve. While these agencies have different focuses and missions, they all serve the same customers in Seattle’s core. The Big Ideas represent the North Star that will guide us as we strive for an inclusive and sustainable Greater Downtown.