City of Seattle

Seattle, WA

Seattle Waterfront Renewal & Park Funding

Project Details

Brian Scott moved to Seattle and founded Uncommon Bridges (as BDS Planning & Urban Design) in 2009 as an outgrowth of his role as lead facilitator for the City of Seattle’s planning effort on the replacement of the Central Waterfront portion of the Alaskan Way Viaduct. This role included facilitation, outreach, and strategic communications among three key public agencies, as well as several dozen stakeholder coalitions, including economic interests, community groups, and cause-driven organizations. 

This work was undertaken in the fall of 2007 – a few months after the devastating double defeat of tunnel and elevated viaduct proposals on the ballot. Key players were embarrassed, angry, and unable to work together. Designed to heal relationships and uncover entrenched interests, the process included 55 interviews, multiple meetings with the leadership of the Departments of Transportation for the City of Seattle, the State of Washington, and King County, shuttle diplomacy, and the development of a strategic communications and outreach strategy to restart the planning process. Brian’s report predicted that if a deep bore tunnel — in concert with surface and transit improvements — could be built for a reasonable price, few would object. This was a major breakthrough toward a long-delayed decision and became the solution that is now completed. The new deep bore tunnel opened in 2019, the Alaskan Way Viaduct was demolished, and Seattle’s spectacular new waterfront park is nearing completion. 

The firm also played a key role in property owner outreach and education in the formation of Seattle’s Waterfront Local Improvement District, which passed City Council in 2019 to raise $160 million toward the new waterfront park (the largest LID in Washington State history).

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