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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Waterfront Ferris Wheel (update)

Erection of the Pier 57 waterfront ferris wheel discussed in our May 11 post is now well under way. The wheel's eight legs were lifted into place earlier this week.

And yesterday and today, the 175-foot-high wheel was assembled piece-by-piece.

The gondolas are next.

In our May 11 post, we noted that Pier 57 is zoned "Urban Harborfront" and is subject to the provisions of the City of Seattle's so-called "Seattle Shoreline Master Program." Shoreline development may not be undertaken unless consistent with the master program. In brief, the program allows development that (a) serves the needs of waterborne commerce, (b) facilitates waterfront revitalization, (c) provides opportunities for public access and recreational enjoyment, (d) preserves and enhances elements of historical and cultural significance, and (e) preserves views of Elliott Bay and the land forms beyond. (emphasis added) Seattle Municipal Code 23.60.220.C.8.

In its decision issued in November 2011, Seattle's Department of Planning and Development (DPD) found the ferris wheel to be consistent with "existing retail and entertainment-type uses on Pier 57." The DPD also found that the wheel "will facilitate the revitalization of Downtown's waterfront and provide opportunities for public access and recreational enjoyment of the shoreline." The DPD made no finding in respect of (a) waterborne commerce, (b) historic and cultural significance, or (c) view preservation. In these respects, the decision seems to us to be flawed.

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