The eastern part of Pioneer Square roughly encompasses the blocks between Yesler Way, 2nd Avenue Extension S, 4th Ave S, and S Jackson St. The area is home to a variety of businesses, art galleries, artist studios, and social services. Residents vary in social demographic make-up and live in a variety of housing types from market rate to subsidized housing.
Major transit and auto access in this area provides crucial access to the city and region. This concentration of buses and traffic essentially cuts off streets from other parts of Pioneer Square and downtown. Public spaces are mostly dark and underutilized coupled with a lack of police presence and enforcement. The area lies on a slope which poses difficult ADA access to reach transit and services. Additionally, the retail landscape is further challenged with theft and vandalism.
Attempts to address issues in this area have been sincere and ongoing, yet disjointed and under resourced. 2nd & Yesler was identified as critical to address in the 1998 Pioneer Square Neighborhood Plan. In 2016, the Alliance for Pioneer Square undertook a project with funding from the Department of Neighborhoods to create a concept plan for public spaces in Pioneer Square. The Pioneer Square Parks and Gateways plan helped set the stage to restore the vibrancy of Pioneer Square’s parks and open spaces.
Developing a long-term vision for this area, will require thoughtful designs, socioeconomic change and dedicated, progressive stakeholder engagement.