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May is for Maritime – Big Waterfront Events

pos steveDowntown Seattle Waterfront’s Maritime Festival is set to do some major partying from May 12-14 –it’s the 100th anniversary of the Port of Seattle!

Once upon a time, local visionaries realized that Seattle’s natural deep-water port was an asset for the city, and a resource that should belong to the people.  Their efforts helped the Washington State Legislature enact laws allowing establishment of port districts in March, 1911.  By that September, King County voters approved creation of the Port of Seattle, the state’s first public port.

rsz_airport_pick_coolAs Seattle grew beyond downtown, so did the Port of Seattle.  In 2011, its services include a cargo and passenger seaport, Sea-Tac airport, a home for the North Pacific fishing fleet, first-class public marinas and conference facilities, even a string of parks around Elliot Bay.  Its cruise line business snagged a huge win a month ago when on April 6th, Disney Cruises announced their move from Vancouver, B.C. to Seattle for the 2012 cruise season.

The Port of Seattle enters its second century with huge changes on the horizon.  The first is the redevelopment of the Seattle Waterfront itself.  Over 1,000 attended the first meeting held by Waterfront designer James Corner Field Operationss on February 17, which kicked off public input on its future vision and potential uses.  Nearly 2,000 responses via questionnaire and email from the Seattle public were received.   The second is replacing the central portion of the Elliott Bay Seawall.  This part is being handled by the Seattle Department of Transportation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.   The Port of Seattle is working with both entities on the best plan for the city and the next Waterfront meeting, where  James Corner presents their first design concept, is scheduled for Thursday, May 19th.  For more information, just visit the waterfront website.

pos tugboat racesThe Port of Seattle has a great centennial link with historical data on timelines, maps, stories and more.  There is also a calendar of events for the remainder of the year.  Here, we’ve attached a .pdf on May 12-14’s Seattle Maritime Festival events.  These include the “world’s largest tugboat race” along the Downtown Seattle Waterfront, a Chowder Cook-Off, survival suit races, a boat building competition, vessel tours, sea-air rescue demonstration, kids’ activities, Stories of the Sea, Career Day and a container ship full of family fun.   There is no charge for any of these events. Maritime_Fest_20110422[1]

The efforts of the Port of Seattle and the Downtown Waterfront are huge contributors to the high quality of life we enjoy in this city.  We hope you’ll check out the Maritime Festival.  We’ve come a long way in 100 years, and we’re sailing full steam ahead into an exciting future.

(Photos of Fisherman’s Terminal 2, Container Ship Terminal 19, SeaTac Aiport, Tugboat Races and Shilshole Bay Marina courtesy of the Port of Seattle)

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Follow That Pig! Rachel’s Seattle Tour

March 12, 2011 by  
Filed under Pike Place Market

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rsz_hoof_1Pike Place Market’s  famous and much-loved “unofficial” mascot Rachel the Piggybank has successfully recovered from injuries sustained in a car accident and will be en route back to her home at the Market the week of March 13th.  But, while she’s still hoof-loose and cement-free, Rachel’s going to take a rock star-type tour of some of her favorite Seattle spots before heading home for good.

rsz_hoof_22Rachel became a Pike Place Market mainstay in 1986, where she greets the public under the Market’s famous clock and sign.  As a working piggybank, all proceeds go to the Market Foundation to raise money and awareness for the four human service agencies based in the Market Historic District (Pike Market Medical Clinic, Pike Market Food Bank, Pike Market Childcare & Preschool and the Pike Market Senior Center). 

rsz_pig_cityLife took a strange little turn the morning of February 5th, when a rear-ended taxicab lost control on rain-soaked streets and plowed into a wall of construction fencing at the Market—and also into Rachel. The 550-pound bronze-cast pig was knocked off the pins securing her to the cement and flew about 10 feet, landing on her left side.  

rsz_hoof_4Rachel didn’t die, of course, but she did suffer injuries which needed  a good dose of tender loving care.  She sustained a number of scrapes and small abrasions, but the most serious damage was a 10-inch crack along the top of her left ear and a large dent on her left side.  Fortunately, the dent was a shallow one.  The crack was welded, the abrasions were sanded, and all is well again.  Who did the repair work?  A team of three led by Rachel’s “mom”—her creator, Whidbey Island artist Georgia Gerber.   

rsz_hoof_5Rachel will be zipping around town on the back of the Market’s vintage 1936 farm truck.  Follow the hoofprints down the side of this article for her appearance schedule.  After her final stop at Westlake Plaza, Rachel will return to a hero’s welcome at the Market, scheduled around 1:30 p.m.   We do say “hero” because there could have been a lot more damage done to the Market had she and the construction wall not stopped the car. 

rsz_hoof_6Pike Place Market’s $68.6 million renovation is going strong, and it’s still estimated that everything will be completed by May, 2011.  In the meantime, there is constant movearound of the shops and restaurants in all Market buildings. Their website can keep you updated on the latest news, and you can even register online to get weekly updates on the renovation and the affected businesses for that time period.  In the meantime, enjoy some Rachel-spotting!

Fifteen Twenty-One Second: How “Design Matters”

February 28, 2011 by  
Filed under 1521, Featured, Opus, Pike Place Market

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“Design Matters” is a new video series on the attributes of Fifteen Twenty-One Second Avenue, bearing testimony that the unique qualities of Fifteen Twenty-One have earned them their distinctive market niche, which has continuously held its value in spite of the current condominium market.

The six spokespersons representing different design attributes on the Design Matters series (note that the starred* names are also Fifteen Twenty-One homeowners) are:

1.0 – Architecture / Blaine Weber*, Architect and Principal of Weber Thompson Architects

2.0 – Interior Design / Susan Marinello, Interior Designer of Susan Marinello Interiors

3.0 – Amenities & Lifestyle / William Justen*, Project Visionary and Longtime Downtown Resident

4.0 – Development Practices / Tom Parsons, Developer and Senior Vice President of OPUS Group

5.0 – Community & HOA Operations / Amanda Ciliberto, Chef Concierge for Fifteen Twenty-One Second Avenue

6.0 – Mortgage Lending / Jeff Bell*, Preferred Lender and Partner with Cobalt Mortgage

rsz_1521_living_roomThe contributors cite numerous tangible and intangible attributes that set the project apart including: transformative “tall and slender” architecture; protected water views; all larger format homes averaging 1,988 sq. ft.; the first-of-its-kind “Glass Rooms” in the homes; a uniform “all penthouse” approach to design; a strong sense of community; and a sales focus towards principle residences helping to maintain established market pricing.   This has led to numerous awards and acknowledgments by industry judges at regional and national development competitions held by such organizations as NAIOP, Multifamily Executive Magazine, The Pacific Coast Builder’s Conference and The National Association of Homebuilders.

Right off of Pike Street, Fifteen Twenty-One is within easy walking distance to Pike Place Market, the Seattle Art Museum, plus a number of shops and restaurants in the best of Belltown.  Only 3 to 5 homes are located on each floor (143 units on 38 stories), ranging from 1,659 to 2,958 sq ft.   Their claims of being “The West Coast’s Most Successful High-Rise Condominium” are well-founded because they paid off their $176 million construction loan in the fall of 2010.

rsz_1521_kitchenFifteen Twenty-One also has a great list of amenities including a 24-hour concierge, security controls, conference space / digital boardroom, rooftop terraces with wide-open city, water and mountain views, a rooftop Sky Lounge, spa-worthy residential fitness center plus a yoga and Pilates studio, playrooms for kids and a convenient pet area.

With over 75% of its homes sold, public records confirm that Fifteen Twenty-One has closed more in-city condominiums valued above $1 million than all other new construction condominium developments in the city combined.   Some of this is attributed to overwhelming consumer preference to the matchless design characteristics, plus protected water views programmed several years ago. 

We at the Stroupe  Group are very proud that we have helped many buyers purchase homes at Fifteen Twenty-One Second Avenue, and they still express their satisfaction over their decision to buy.  We continue to be positive about this project, and firmly believe that this is one of the nicest condominium developments in Seattle.  Check out the Design Matters series for yourself, then send us an email at urgent@stroupe.com for more information or to schedule a private tour. 

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Pike Place Market – Where to Find Everything

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If you and your guests are thinking of visiting Pike Place Market over the holiday season, you may be in for a few surprises when visiting your favorite spots.  Well into Phase 2 of its $68.6 million, four-year renovation project, a number of businesses are now undergoing relocation and in a few cases, closure within the Market.  This part of the renovation will run into the spring of 2011.

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However, construction is now in “slowdown” mode for the rest of the year. Business is currently brisk, with the vendors in full holiday mode.  Shopping is always a fun and festive event at Pike Place Market, and their website now has a link where you can get the latest news about your favorite shops and restaurants.  Click on this construction summary site for more details.  You can also sign up for an online feed to keep you abreast of the latest Market news.

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For example, five portable containers fitted with power, ramps, and water supply will be in operation in front of the Market and in place until springtime.  Choice Produce and El Mercado Latino are currently located in these containers, with Quality Produce to follow. Quality Cheese and Pike Place Market Creamery will also share a container.

Public Restrooms received a makeover too.  Rebuilding the designated women’s room in the First and Pine building is nearing completion, and a new unisex restroom on the First Avenue floor of the Corner Market should now be open.  New restroom transformation of the Rummage Hall has also been completed. You can find the Rummage Hall’s inside location at the rear of the Soames Dunn building for the winter, and its Western Avenue location will remain open until springtime.

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The focus of the renovation work is to upgrade the Market’s core infrastructure.  This includes all mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) systems, installing a four-pipe system serving each of its eight buildings, and implementing new main switch gear.  Leading the renovations is Turner Construction, which is also in charge of  all seismic work, adding three new elevators serving all Market floors, and upgrading the Market’s exterior skin to now withstand salt air and UV rays. 

The Pike Place Market Preservation & Development Authority (PDA) is working with all affected tenants on everything from packing up to temporary relocation, as well as arrangements to keep business activity going in each venue.  PDA is determined to keep the Market fully operational to vendors, residents and tourists during renovation. 

The Market will be closed on Christmas and New Years Day.  And, when construction gets back into full swing on January 3rd, a number of businesses will be affected. Keep tabs on construction with the construction summary link above, and you can also check out the entire website at  http://www.pikeplacemarket.org/

200 W Highland – An Address with Star Power

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Your chance to view the first group of units back on the market at 200 W Highland will be Tuesday, November 16th at 5pm.

Perched on the south slope of Queen Anne Hill, 200 W Highland is a 25-home condominium development.  Its location provides you the best of all worlds.  Where do we start?  First, you have an easy walk to the great restaurants and services in Upper Queen Anne.  You’re moments away from Lower Queen Anne, home to Seattle Rep and Intiman Theaters, plus Seattle Opera, Pacific Northwest Ballet and Seattle International Film Festival’s year-round film venue. Let’s not forget easy access to Seattle Center and Key Arena, either!  You’re close to the vibrancy of downtown Seattle, and it’s also easy to hop onto the freeways.

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But while you’re easily in the midst of all that activity, it’s just as easy to escape it. You can enjoy sumptuous views of downtown, Elliott Bay, the Space Needle and Mount Rainier from your living room, bedroom or terrace.  Sun getting in your eyes?  The window shades are mechanized and programmable.  If you’d like to go outside for a relaxing stroll, 200 W Highland is located right across the street from the historic and beautiful Kerry Park.

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Timeless architecture, combined with classic materials, complement this historically upscale neighborhood.  All units contain open kitchens with top-of-the-line appliances including Sub-Zero refrigerators and Viking gas ranges.  Want some further pampering?  You’ll also find special touches such as a wine cooler, a warming drawer, and a pantry.  There are high-quality finishes throughout from marble and granite countertops, to exotic hardwood flooring, to spacious bedrooms with wool carpeting.  Finally, there is a security system in place, along with indoor parking.

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Although the homes are stars in themselves, they share billing on Tuesday with host Kendra Todd, who heads up the The Kendra Todd Group. If her name sounds familiar, she was the Season 3 winner of Donald Trump’s The Apprentice, and host of HGTV’s My House Is Worth What?

Homes are available in 2- and 3-bedroom units, with 1,500 to 2,800 square foot floor plans. Prices range from around $700,000 to $1.7 Million.  If you’d like to meet us at the Open House or arrange for a private showing, please contact us at this Stroupe Group  link!

First Hill Streetcar: Funded and Moving Forward!

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This was a great week for rail news! We posted an article on high-speed trains a few days ago and now we have word that the Sound Transit Board has finalized $132.8 million in funding for the First Hill Streetcar line. Covering a 2 ½-mile route, construction is expected to begin in 2011 and finish in 2013.

Plans are to link the First Hill Streetcar line to the Capitol Hill and Chinatown/International Districts. Stops are planned at nearby light rail stops, the medical centers of Harborview, Swedish, and Virginia Mason, plus Seattle Central Community College and Seattle University.

Monies for the line were approved by the voters two years ago, but initial plans were being made to put an underground light rail stop on First Hill. This has now been officially scrapped due to construction problems and the cost to cover them.  Steps are now being taken to select a general contractor/ construction manager, and is expected to be awarded the week of December 13th.

Finally, before the first shovel of dirt is ceremoniously turned for the First Hill line, the City Council needs to decide two outstanding issues.  The first is where to place the terminals in Pioneer Square.  Community meetings will be set up with local residents and business leaders to determine the best locations, and then submitted for a vote. The second is for a maintenance yard and barn. Two sites under consideration are the city’s Charles Street Shops at South Dearborn and 8th Avenue South, and at a block bordered by East Yesler Way, Boren and 12th Avenues, plus East Fir Street.  The latter choice is owned by the Seattle Housing Authority, and would need their approval.

Down the track, the First Hill line could be extended another half a mile at its most northern stop on Capitol Hill, as well as extending a mile into downtown to connect to the South Lake Union line.  The extensions would need federal funding, but it’s expected that their grants of up to $75 million could cover both projects.  

For more project info, just click on this link.

Seattle Public Library – Five Stars, and Five Secrets

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Recently, Library Journal.com posted the L J Index of Public Library Service 2010, rating 7,407 public libraries nationwide. 258 of these were designated as “Star Libraries”. In its category, the Seattle Public Library System (SPL) received Library Journal’s highest rating of five stars, ranking # 1 west of the Mississippi and # 3 nationwide.  Portland and San Francisco came in at # 11 and # 14 nationwide, respectively, and both received three stars.

In light of this terrific news, we thought it’d be a good time to revisit the SPL, with special emphasis on its crown jewel, the Central Library.  Located at 1000 Fourth Avenue, it is not only a marvel in glass, but in the breadth of services it offers.  From checking out books to booking a catered event, the Central Library is the last word in community service.

Ready for the Five Secrets?

 1.  If you’re into genealogy, you’ve hit a goldmine. Logging into the SPL website with your library card number gives you access to a number of databases. The Central Library itself is a repository for many genealogy items AND you can sit at a terminal and enjoy free access to ancestry.com

2.  On the first and third Mondays of each month, take a bag lunch to the Microsoft Auditorium on Level 1  (4th Avenue) and treat yourself to a “Thrilling Tale”, read aloud by a library staffer. This starts at noon and runs for about 50 minutes. This is one of a number of lunch hour programs that SPL does.

3.  Looking for a unique gift?  Level 3 near the Fifth Avenue entrance has a wonderful store called Friendshop, featuring items created by more than 65 Northwest artists. Along with library souvenirs, you can buy jewelry, cards and many other items at prices that won’t bust your budget.  This Friendshop link takes you to their website where you can even purchase online.

4.  They host a wide range of events, from the daylong “To Kill a Mockingbird” event held in September to a children’s Fall Festival afternoon of stories and craft making. Check their Calendar of Events link for readings, author visits, concerts, classes and more, which cover not only the Central Library but the entire 26-branch system. All of these events are free of charge.

5.  SPL has a free mobile app. Learn more about it here.

Library Journal is the field’s leading professional publication and developed its national rankings based on per capita statistics for library visits, circulation, program attendance and public Internet computer use. This year’s ratings were based on 2008 data that libraries reported to the Federal Institute of Museum and Library Services.  SPL was one of only five libraries in the country in the expenditures of $30 million or higher category to receive a five-star rating.  The others included three public libraries in Ohio and the Denver Public Library.

Pablo meets SAM: The Picasso Exhibit

October 9, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured, Lifestyle, SAM

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It’s one of the biggest events in Seattle arts history.  Seattle Art Museum (SAM)’s exhibit, Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris includes iconic works from nearly every period of artistic legend Pablo Picasso (1881-1973). The Musée’s collection is the largest and considered the most important collection of Picasso’s work in the world.  SAM’s exhibit features more than 150 original pieces including nearly 75 paintings and sculptures, complemented by a selection of prints, drawings and photographs.  

The Musée Picasso’s holdings stand apart from other such collections because it’s made up of 3,000 works that Picasso kept for himself. The collection contains works from eras such as:  Blue Period, Rose Period, African art-inspired, Cubist, surrealist and classicizing, among others. Picasso’s muses, Marie-Thérèse Walter and Dora Maar, are also here. His eight-decade career spanned both World Wars, the Spanish Civil War, and the Korean War. Each conflict also made a presence in his work.

This exhibit first ran in Helsinki and Moscow, and Seattle has the honor of being the first of three American stops for the exhibit.  From here it moves to Richmond, Virginia, then to a final city to be determined before heading home.  The Musée National Picasso, Paris, opened in 1985 with the intent of giving a permanent home to Picasso’s collection. Housed in a converted 17th-century mansion in Paris’ Marais neighborhood, a number of problems arose including the ability to display only 300 works at a time. Whoops! The Musée closed in August 2009 for a massive renovation and is scheduled to reopen in early 2012. This makes the current SAM exhibit a once in a lifetime opportunity to view the works of a man who truly changed the art world, in our own backyard.  

SAM is located at 1300 First Avenue in downtown Seattle, and this exhibit runs from October 8, 2010 through January 17, 2011. In addition, SAM is coordinating a number of programs and collaborations among local institutions and organizations including the Seattle Symphony, Seattle Repertory Theater, Henry Art Gallery, Seattle Arts and Lectures and the University of Washington.  There’s also a wide variety of hotel packages and partnerships with restaurants and retailers throughout the city as well, which should also be fun for you and your guests to explore during the upcoming holiday season.  Hours, ticket ordering and more information are available at picassoinseattle.org or at seattleartmuseum.org .

Mercer Street and I-5: Closures, Noise and More!

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Over 80,000 vehicles use Mercer Street daily. In planning its massive renovation plan, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) and its partners determined that nighttime and weekend work was necessary to keep the project on time while minimizing public impact.  SDOT recently filed a Major Public Project Construction Variance (MPPCV) allowing them to work during those hours as well.  Currently being planned:

 Mercer Street lane closures on weekdays:

  • No lane closures allowed from 6 – 9 am, and from 3 – 6 pm
  • Single lane closures may be allowed from 5 – 6 am, 9 am – 3 pm, and  6- 7 pm
  • Weekday multiple lane closures may be allowed from 7 pm to 5 am

 Mercer Street lane closures on weekdays/holidays:

  • No lane closures allowed from 2 – 6 pm.
  • Single lane closures may be allowed from 6 pm – 2 pm the following day
  • Multiple lane closures will be allowed from 7 pm – 1 am

 Interstate 5 ramp entrance and exit ramp to and from Mercer St closures as follows:

  • Sunday to Thursday from 11 pm – 5 am
  • From Friday at 11 pm to Monday at 5 am

 Timing will be adjusted due to special events like Bumbershoot, the Seafair Torchlight Parade, and victory celebrations for the Seattle Storm. 

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Nighttime noise- limiting measures:

  • All trucks performing export haul shall have rubber bed liners.
  • All backup warning devices shall be either broadband or a live backup observer.
  • Hospital grade mufflers and silencers on all diesel powered equipment.
  • Lighting and equipment such as generators, air compressors, etc. shall be directed away from oncoming traffic and buildings, and have mitigation shields if necessary.
  • Radios will be used for all long-range communication.
  • Any material or debris on the pavement shall be removed by hand or by sweeping. No scraping type of equipment or activity will be used to clean pavement surfaces.
  • Moveable local noise barriers 10 – 12 feet in height, plus noise curtains will be put in place.

SDOT outreach staff will ensure the public is kept aware of any changes affecting nighttime noise levels, and that all inquiries and complaints are responded to.  A Construction Hotline has been set up and will run 24/7 as a single point of contact, and that number is 206-419-5818. This SDOT link on the Mercer project carries a lot of information including timelines, maps and construction details.

McGraw Square Renovation Underway

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The McGraw Square renovations officially began on September 24. One of the smallest parks in Seattle, it is located near the Westin Hotel at the intersection of Fifth Avenue, Stewart Street and Westlake Avenue. This project permanently closes Westlake Ave between Olive Way and Stewart St to create a transit, bicycle, and pedestrian-friendly plaza at the current terminus of the Seattle Streetcar South Lake Union line.

The goals of the new, centrally-located plaza are to make walking and biking through north downtown safer and more comfortable, while improving the transfer abilities of the Seattle Streetcar, Monorail, light rail tunnel, and major bus routes. The project also seeks to better connect the South Lake Union and Denny Triangle neighborhoods to the existing retail core, offering a “sense of place” to help orient new housing and promote economic development.

Just follow the numbers. The McGraw Square Transit Mall renovations include:

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1. A second streetcar platform to improve rider access to/from the new plaza

2. Integrated transit shelter/covered bicycle parking for up to 10 bikes

3. Landscaped rain garden to infiltrate majority of stormwater and reduce runoff entering the sewer system

4. Illuminated seat walls with signage, to act as gateway for Westlake Hub

5. ADA access, lighting, and seating improvements near the historic McGraw statue

6. Inlaid, energy efficient (LED) light tiles as part of a comprehensive dynamic, colored lighting scheme

7. Salvaged granite pavers for detailing, taken from overstock of original Westlake Park installation

8. New street trees to replace (two-for-one) those being removed near McGraw statue; new large specimen trees to anchor Westlake Ave terminus

9. Oversized curb ramp, utility connections to facilitate mobile food vending and plaza programming

SDOT is also considering converting 6th Ave between Virginia St and Westlake Ave to a two-way operation (and to relocate the charter bus zone), with the Westlake Ave to Stewart St approach reduced to a single southbound lane. The Seattle Streetcar and buses running along 5th Ave remain in full service during construction.

McGraw Square is named after John Harte McGraw. This grocer from Maine was a Seattle police chief, harbor master, fire warden, King County sheriff, and Washington State governor from 1893-97. The designer of McGraw Square and its completion date are unknown, but it was influenced by the famous park plan that John Charles Olmsted of the Olmsted Brothers firm in Brookline, Massachusetts drew up for Seattle in 1903. Their vision of the Seattle park system was to celebrate, showcase and protect Pacific Northwest landscapes while providing residents and tourists with park access and recreation.  

The McGraw project is also part of the City’s larger Center City Strategy to make Westlake one of three transportation “hubs” serving downtown (with King Street Station and Colman Dock). Construction of the plaza project is expected to be completed by Thanksgiving 2010.

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