Monthly Staff Feature: Jessa Timmer, Alliance for Pioneer Square Deputy Director

Deputy Director, Jessa navigates the many public and private investments in Pioneer Square’s public realm. Her extensive background in community engagement and organizational leadership is instrumental in building and maintaining relationships with a varied population of stakeholders.

  • The Northeast Pioneer Square Framework planning project received additional funding in 2022 to continue work. What is planned for this year and what can folks expect?

We were really excited to have received  continued funding for this project in 2022 from Historic South Downtown to support Northeast Pioneer Square. There are a lot of projects and conversations around that part of the neighborhood and an integrated and well-supported vision for the area was necessary to bring everyone on the same page. We are currently working on the final edits of the Framework Plan, developed together with the Steering Committee in 2021. This Framework Plan will be published soon and will guide work in the area in the years to come.

In 2022, we will focus on continuing to build relationships between government agencies, property owners, businesses, services providers, residents, and other stakeholders, all of whom coexist in this space. We will also be moving forward with a retail plan for the area so that everyone can have a shared understanding of the opportunities and challenges associated with having an active ground floor presence and how that informs potential development. This will be especially crucial as King County proceeds with their Campus Master Planning process which has the opportunity to transform Northeast Pioneer Square over the next decade.

  • Private/public development and construction projects continue to move ahead in the neighborhood. How is the Alliance supporting residents, businesses and neighbors through this? (partnerships, navigating impact, feedback etc)

We are thrilled to see investment by private developers and by public entities continuing to happen in Pioneer Square. However, we know that construction can have impacts on neighboring businesses and residents. The Alliance staff works diligently to ensure that everyone is aware of construction impacts and that they are offered reasonable options and accommodations during disruptions.

We’ve had a great working relationship over the past few years with the Waterfront team, enabling us to effectively and efficiently communicate changes in construction schedules and disruptions. Our team works with them weekly on understanding some of the difficulties arising from doing large-scale construction projects in our neighborhood. We’ll be taking that knowledge and experience with us as we shift to the East/West Pedestrian Streets project which is slated to begin in early 2023. 

The Alliance has already been in conversations with the project team at SDOT to iron out what construction sequencing will look like for these improvements, so we retain as much access to and through the neighborhood while our east/west streets begin their transformation. The end product will be beautiful, pedestrian-friendly streets, but we want to make sure to minimize impacts during their construction.

We’ve also amped up our work in communicating to customers and workers how to access our neighborhood during these construction periods. Our team will be working on several marketing campaigns to ensure folks know how to visit Pioneer Square and their favorite spots!

  • Finally, how do you see the summer shaping up for Pioneer Square?

With daytime workers returning, a highly-anticipated cruise season just kicking off, events and games at the stadiums in full gear, and fun things planned for our public spaces, Pioneer Square is well on its way to a great summer. I believe most of us understand we need to be cognizant and ready to respond to changing public health needs, but I also think that after two years of varied states of restrictions, people are ready to get back to “normal”. 

There is quite a hustle and bustle already coming back to Pioneer Square. I think so many people who work, live, and visit our neighborhood will be excited to hit up their favorite spots again and explore some of the many new businesses that have opened up in recent months. We have such a gorgeous neighborhood with historic buildings and huge, mature trees, that just walking around is an experience in and of itself. For those who haven’t been here in some time, we’re excited to see you back!