Frequently Asked Questions

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Who will maintain the square once it is open?

Good question. Excellent maintenance of this public space is essential to its success. We will be working with neighborhood partners to ensure that the space is clean and safe at all times. At this stage we don't know who will be responsible for the overall maintenance of the site.

However, we have numerous examples of successful partnerships from similar spaces in other North American cities that we will inform decisions about maintaining the space. Options include:

  • Ownership and maintenance by a local business or neighborhood development agency (see: University City District in Philadelphia)
  • Ownership and maintenance by the University of Washington (see: Ship Street Square in Providence, owned and maintained by Brown University)
  • Ownership and maintenance shared by the Parks Department and the University of Washington (see: UW Arboretum, jointly managed by UW the City of Seattle)

What kinds of activities would take place in the square?

Public squares become great through planned programming for the space and by the serendipitious and unexpected happenings that take place in an open space. 

We anticipate that the square will have space for cafes and bars, food trucks and movable seating. Businesses that are adjacent to the square, from Kai's on 43rd to the Nepture on 45th, will have their available frontage increased dramatically, increasing the opportunities for seating, people watching, or just meeting friends. 

The space will be available for night markets, dancing, events, public rallies -- you name it, it could happen at U District Square.

Won't the square just be filled with homeless people and drug addicts?

We believe that the neighborhood's 42,500 students, 3,700 faculty, 24,500 residents and thousands of yearly visitors deserve a world-class public place at the heart of their daily lives. Based on successfully designed urban spaces throughout the world, we find that good design encourages people to "own" public places and discourages undesirable behavior.

I own a small business nearby. How will a public square affect my business?

Well designed public squares have a measurable positive impact on local businesses. Small businesses gain economic benefits from increased foot traffic nearby, while also contributing to an overall improvement in livability. A public square becomes a place for office workers to have lunch or for small restaurants to send their patrons with take-out. 

For more information on economic benefits to urban public squares, click here.

Who will own the square?

Final ownership of the site is something that will be worked out as we progress with the project. Our goal is to advocate for a public square on behalf of neighbors, area businesses, the university, students, and visitors.

Currently, Sound Transit is in the process of selling the air rights of the station area to the University of Washington. 

Isn't the design of the station complete?

The design of the below ground station and the station head houses (entrances) is nearly complete.

However, what will happen at the street level and above has not yet been subject to public comment or discussion. The neighbors and professionals behind U District Square want to let the public know that there is an alternative to building a 65 foot or 85 foot building at this site, something that could benefit the whole neighborhood and not just one developer.

Please see our FAQ on density to read about our position on tall buildings in the neighborhood.

Will Brooklyn be open to traffic once the square opens?

That depends on the outcome of your input and our advocacy efforts.

If you like the idea of a public square that is truly for people, please continue pushing for a pedestrian only area at this site.

Is U District Square against increased density in the U District?

No. We believe that significantly increased density is essential for a thriving U District. But just building taller buildings will not make the U District a great place.  To make increased density successful, a quality environment is essential: public open space in the center of the neighborhood, improved pedestrian and bike ammenities, parklets and other changes to the neighborhood are needed in combination with increased density.

I own nearby. How will a public square at the light rail station impact my neighborhood?

If you live in the U District already, you know it is a very walkable neighborhood, with tons of great places within walking distance. What the U District does not have is a central urban gathering space for neighbors and visitors, students and faculty. We aim to create a civic space to complement the pastoral University of Washington campus, and to contribute to making the U District and Seattle a world class place to live.