U District Alley Activation Project

Proposed site of the alley activation project in the U District.

U District Alley

A Project to Build a Network of Public Open Space

Collaborating with the Alley Community Council, we are proposing a project to implement the community-driven strategies from the recently adopted U District Alley Activation Plan (a large file at 12.6 Mb), which was developed by SvR Design, and in cooperation with the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), and the Department of Planning and Development (DPD).

Our project proposes to implement select strategies from the plan as a prototype and laboratory to test the activation concepts. All of these strategies reflect the popular approach for interventions that are “light, quick, and cheap" as well as attainable with wide community participation. We have applied for a Neighborhood Street Fund grant from the City of Seattle. Learn about our project from a presentation (3.5 Mb) we prepared.

This project will focus on the following strategies:

1. Surface Treatment: To designate the alley as a pedestrian-priority space, a consistent pattern of paint will be applied to the existing alley pavement within the project boundary area. A painted surface treatment will provide traffic calming benefits for pedestrians and bikes as well as provide a highlighted space for public use and events. 

2. Overhead Lighting: To improve nighttime safety, overhead tivoli lights will be strung across the projected boundary area above 26'. Tivoli lights will also distinguish the space as an inviting evening destination space for the community to enjoy. 

3. Bicycle Parking: Reflecting the frequent shortage of adequate bicycle parking, the project will install vertical bike parking frames to maximize access to parking as efficiently as possible. The vertical bike racks would add an additional 8-10 bike parking spots for an already crowded parking location. These bike racks will be located out of vehicle right of way, on adjacent private property. 

4. Garbage Containment: Taking advantage of the existing agreement between multiple entities on the alley to share trash, recycling & compost dumpsters, the project will prototype the centralization of these receptacles within an attractive and secure enclosure. This will reduce the visual clutter and errant litter in the alley while coordinating the shared use of a common resource.

5. Seating: Additional seating will be added in the form of counter height tables and stools (removable overnight). They will be located out of the right of way and out of vehicle traffic. The additional seating will provide a privately-managed, public space for the community to gather and aid in hosting community events. 

The proposed solutions have wide community support from alley stakeholders including property owners Alfred Shiga, Unico Properties, Cafe Allegro, and has received letters of endorsement from The University District Partnership, The University District Community Council, The University Temple Board of Trustees, ROOTS Shelter, U District Square, The People's Hard Reduction Alliance, and Bulldog News.


Update - October 14, 2016

Success! Our project was awarded $7,000 for making our alley activation goals come true. The funds from the Neighborhood Matching Grant will be used to create additional bike parking, additional outdoor seating. We hope to leverage this funding with other sources to complete the entire project's goals: overhead lighting, pavement painting, and garbage containment.

Come help us activate OUR public alley!


Update - May 7, 2016

Just a quick announcement with the results from the voting at the NEDC meeting this past Thursday on the Neighborhood Street Fund grant applications.

We were successful in being selected to proceed!


Model of Proposal

Alley Activation Model

Alley Activation Model

Alley Lights for Parents Weekend

Alley Lights For Parents Weekend

Alley Lights for Parents Weekend

Alley Lights For Parents Weekend

Presentation to NEDC on May 5, 2016

May 5, 2016 Presentation to NEDC (3,512 kb)

Download the Plan

U District Alley Activation Plan (12,600 kb)



1. Surface Treatment:

Examples of Pavement Painting 01

Examples of Pavement Painting 02

Examples of Pavement Painting 03



2. Overhead Lighting:

Tivoli Lights

Tivoli Lights

Tivoli Lights



3. Bicycle Parking:

Example of Vertical Bike Rack 01

Example of Vertical Bike Rack 02

Example of Vertical Bike Rack 03



4. Garbage Containment:

Examples of Garbage Corral 01

Examples of Garbage Corral 02

Examples of Garbage Corral 04



5. Seating:

Outdoor Counter & Stools

Outdoor Counter & Stools

Outdoor Counter & Stools