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September 2020
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CityLink Seattle

Seattle Center Skate Plaza Set to Break Ground with Selection of Construction Lead

Seattle Center is moving forward on a new Skate Plaza following the selection of Grindline Skateparks to undertake construction of the 18,000 square-foot facility. Construction prep began this month. The skate plaza will occupy a span of public right-of-way, formerly Broad St.,  between 5th Ave. N. and Taylor Ave. along Thomas St. The Mercer Corridor improvements project closed the street area in 2014. The new plaza replaces Seattle Center Skatepark, which closed in 2018.  

Starting in 1990, Seattle based Grindline Skateparks has specialized in the planning, design, construction and programming of cast-in-place concrete skateparks, nationally and internationally. In fact, it played an integral role in the development of the skatepark this replaces. skateparks are designed and built by lifelong skaters and former professionals who know how important access to a skatepark is. Grindline’s mission is to provide everyone who loves skateboarding, regardless of their ability, a place to enjoy practicing their sport and progress their skills. A Grindline skatepark is a family-friendly space for all users to share today and for decades to come. From design through construction, to maintenance and programming, Grindline focuses on the big picture to create a skateboarding experience, for life. 

The new skate plaza represents a multi-pronged, partnered effort to fulfill a commitment to the Seattle skateboarding community to continue to provide an outstanding and versatile skateboarding experience at Seattle Center, while allowing for the redevelopment of an aging, outmoded sports and events arena. With construction set to begin this fall, the new skate plaza is expected to open in mid-2021.  

“Skate parks at Seattle Center, from SeaSkate to Seattle Center Skatepark, have provided an outlet for young people with an enthusiasm for boarding the opportunity to build and hone their skills, where they can enjoy healthy social engagement and enliven a portion of the streetscape,” said Seattle Center Director Robert Nellams. “I can’t think of a better use of this vacated street than filling it with this kind of creative, active life.”  

The Seattle Center Skatepark Coalition, which included longtime skate community activists and the nonprofit Skate Like A Girl, worked closely with Seattle Center to realize an accommodating and inspiring plaza design. They collaborated with the project team to produce a robust public outreach process that included online and in-person forums and met skateboarders – especially youth – on their own terms. The result is a park plan that focuses on creating a safe space for beginners and skateboarders of all skill levels. 

“Skate Like a Girl is super excited to see forward momentum on this Seattle Center Plaza project and want to thank each person who provided input online, came to an event, or showed up at any other point to make this project reality,” said Kristin Ebeling, Executive Director of Skate Like A Girl. “Right now, young people have no skate spaces between the Central District and Green Lake, and many of our existing parks cater to more expert skaters. Providing a centralized and safe park for all skaters to progress and build community will fill a gap in our network of skate spaces in Seattle. We can’t wait to welcome our community back to our clinics and skate camps in Summer 2021!”  

Seattle Arena Co/Oak View Group contributed $500,000 to relocating the skatepark as part of its agreement with the City of Seattle to redevelop and manage Climate Pledge Arena. Seattle City Council supported relocation of the skatepark as an important part of the Arena project; and in July 2019, the Council approved transferal of the land from the Seattle Department of Transportation to Seattle Center for purposes of constructing, operating, and maintaining a public skate plaza. Seattle Design Commission enthusiastically supported the project and reviewed the proposed design.  

A skate park has existed at Seattle Center since the 1990s. Initially, it resided on part of a parking lot, now the world headquarters of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It was re-imagined and rebuilt on the Arena property in 2009 and was demolished in 2019 to redevelop the site. The new skate plaza is designed for street-style skateboarding, with a focus on providing flexible space for beginner-level skateboarders to learn and practice skills. Local artist Perri Howard will re-install the original artwork she created for the 2009 skatepark, including a glass wallride, in the new location. The site encompasses a public alleyway, with skating spaces on either side, connected by a sidewalk. If possible in the future, Seattle Center plans to connect the two sides into one continuous space.  

“Since 1993, Seattle Center has supported a public skatepark on its campus,” said Scott Shinn of the advocacy organization Parents for Skateparks, and a member of the Seattle Center Skatepark Coalition. “Parents for Skateparks salutes the generations of skatepark advocates who have helped to bring the skateboarding experience to thousands of participants, through five iterations of the skatepark itself. Through her tireless work with the Skate Like a Girl organization, Kristin Ebeling keeps the stoke flowing to future generations of skaters who may enjoy the free, public benefit of a skatepark on the Seattle Center campus. Much thanks also to the staff of Seattle Center and their skillful guidance through the process of rebuilding this important public space.” 

Seattle Center Skate Plaza plays an important part in the Center’s purpose, to inspire the spirit and build stronger communities. To learn more about activities at Seattle Center, and to connect to virtual Seattle Center experiences, visit www.seattlecenter.com or call 206 684-7200.  

About Seattle Center: Connect to the extraordinary at Seattle Center, an active civic, arts and family gathering place in the core of our region and home to Climate Pledge Arena at Seattle Center. More than 30 cultural, educational, sports and entertainment organizations that reside on the grounds, together with a broad range of public and community programs, create thousands of events on the 74-acre campus and attract over 12 million visitors each year. At Seattle Center, part of Uptown Arts & Cultural District, our purpose is to create exceptional events, experiences and environments that delight and inspire the human spirit to build stronger communities. Activities at the Center generate $1.864 billion in business activity and $631 million in labor income. 

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