Mayor proposes property-tax levy for Market repairs
To rehabilitate a Seattle icon, Mayor Greg Nickels proposed a $75 million property-tax levy Tuesday to make basic repairs to the Pike Place...
Seattle Times staff reporter
To rehabilitate a Seattle icon, Mayor Greg Nickels proposed a $75 million property-tax levy Tuesday to make basic repairs to the Pike Place Market.
Shoppers and vendors would get more bathrooms, new elevators and improvements to Victor Steinbrueck Park, but most of the changes would be invisible to the visitor — a new heating and cooling system, new pipes and seismic upgrades.
It's been 36 years since Seattle residents voted to keep the Market from being razed, Nickels said, and now "the threat comes not from without, but from within."
"Its wires are frayed, pipes are crumbling, the heating and cooling systems are wheezing and the bones have grown fragile," he said at a news conference at the Market.
If the City Council approves, the six-year levy proposal would go to the voters on the November ballot. Homeowners would pay $9 per $100,000 of assessed value.
For the owner of a $420,000 house — Seattle's median price — that would mean about $38 per year starting in 2009.
Construction would begin next year and end in 2013.
The proposal includes:
• A new power plant, a high-efficiency heating and cooling system, new plumbing, new utility rooms and seismic upgrades.
• Two new elevators.
• Doubling the number of restroom stalls by renovating existing restrooms and adding stalls in two new locations.
• A new staircase between Western Avenue and the Market.
• $2 million for improvements to Victor Steinbrueck Park.
Although the city's eight-year parks levy expires this year and Seattle Center has started making plans for major changes to its campus, Nickels said this is the Market's year.
It could also be Sound Transit's year. After the failure last year of a proposition to fund roads and transit, the transit agency's board is considering whether to go back to the ballot as early as this fall with a sales tax to extend light-rail lines and increase commuter-rail service.
Next year, Nickels plans to propose renewing the levy that funds low-income housing. After that, the mayor will consider a tax proposal for Seattle Center and parks.
The mayor said he's sensitive to the slowing economy, noting that with the parks levy expiring and the passage of a new Market levy, the median homeowner would pay $66 less next year.
The City Council is interested in putting a new parks levy before voters this year and has commissioned a survey to gauge community interest.
Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, chairman of the parks committee, supports a parks levy "to meet needs of the neighborhood and repair community centers that are in very bad condition," including ones at Green Lake, Alki and Rainier Beach. Belltown has been asking for a park for a long time.
"As the city grows and becomes more dense, the need for parks becomes more critical, and it's only going to get more expensive if we wait," Rasmussen said.
Sharon Pian Chan: 206-464-2958 or email@example.com
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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