New schools in or around Seattle Center are nothing new. The former Warren Avenue School sat on the current site of the Washington State Coliseum, now KeyArena. When the site was purchased in 1902 the Seattle school enrollment is said to have increased annually by 2,000 children. The school opened in 1903 to relieve overcrowding in the nearby Mercer and Denny Schools (these schools are also gone). Enrollment peaked in 1929 at 734 students. In 1957, Seattle voters approved a proposal for the development of a Civic Center and the World’s Fair. At the time of its closure enrollment had dropped to 250 students as families moved to make way for the fairgrounds. The school district sold the site after the State Supreme Court ruled the state could condemn the property.
Since this time, the Uptown community has been heavily dependent on the rest of Queen Anne for many of its city services. In recent history, Uptown has tried to create its own identity separate from Queen Anne. The Uptown Alliance worked hard to build a voice for their community and I praise them for their tireless advocacy.
This month the Uptown Preliminary Rezone Recommendation Director’s Report was published. In this document, Uptown is called a neighborhood, a regional center, and a district. What is new to hear is that the report calls Queen Anne an “interested neighbor”. I argue that, at this time, Uptown is not an independent entity and Queen Anne is more than a neighbor to Uptown.
The report thoughtfully addresses development standards, the increase of housing supply, transportation and traffic, sensitivity to pedestrians, its connection to Seattle Center, and makes mention of preservation. The report never studies the impact on the school district. The only place the school district is mentioned in the city’s planning efforts is in the Seattle 2035 Comprehensive Plan. Deep in the comp plan, the city calls out potential future discretionary projects. Specific to Queen Anne, the plan highlights Seattle Center; it bullet points the Memorial Stadium relocation, Memorial Stadium site redevelopment, Key Arena enhancement, and the North Parking Lots redevelopment. These are capital projects that the City might undertake or fund in the future. It’s important to stress that Memorial Stadium is owned by the Seattle School District and the funds used for redevelopment would come from the Seattle citizens.
If the comp plan and the Uptown report won’t address the impact on the schools, then the Seattle School District must… but it doesn’t. The projected growth boundary changes are not slated to account for rezones. The Uptown community cannot rely on the Seattle School District to figure this out for them. When Uptown sits at the table with the city to create a vision for their community they need to advocate for the return of their own schools – for their benefit and the benefit of their interested neighbors.
Warren Ave School (courtesy of Seattle Public Schools)
Warren Ave School (courtesy of Seattle Public Schools)
Historical Photos of Uptown’s former Warren Avenue School
Speaking of the cause, it’s time to show your love with our 3rd Annual “HeartBomb!”
Show Your Love “HeartBomb”
1 PM, Tuesday, February 14,2017
KeyArena | Coliseum
BYOV (Bring your own Valentine)
Join us on Valentine’s Day to celebrate a unique, local Modernist masterpiece – KeyArena in the heart of Seattle Center!
Historic Seattle, Queen Anne Historical Society, Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, Docomomo WEWA, and friends will be showing our love for KeyArena (aka Washington State Coliseum) at 1 pm on Tuesday, February 14. We’ll gather for a group photo at 1:15 pm to show off our homemade valentines to this cool historic building. (The group photo will happen rain or shine!)
HeartBombs are a fun and creative way to bring people together and raise awareness about what’s cherished in a community — a sort of city-wide love letter about places that matter.
Why are we bringing the love?
The City of Seattle issued a Request for Proposals for the rehab and re-use of KeyArena, a world-class sports and entertainment venue. But there’s also a tear-down option. The landmark-eligible historic structure from the Seattle World’s Fair should be preserved. Read Knute Berger’s article for more of the backstory.
Participating in a HeartBomb event is one way to advocate for the building’s preservation and potential re-use. As Berger says, “it could be a win for history, sports fans and taxpayers.” Who doesn’t like a win-win?
Here’s how it works
Get creative by crafting your homemade valentine to the building. Add your message about why this place matters.
Bring your heart creation and join others for a group photo at KeyArena declaring your love. We’ll meet on the west side of the arena off 1st Avenue N and Harrison Street near the giant, concrete abutment (or “leg”).
Can’t join us for the group photo? Don’t worry. Take pictures of you and your handmade creation in front of KeyArena, and share them on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook with the hashtag #heartbombSEA, #heartbombKeyArena, and #IHeartSavingPlaces. Feel free to add why you “heart” this place and why others should fall in love with it, too!
Contact Brooke Best, Historic Seattle Preservation Advocacy Coordinator, at
On November 16, 2016, a jury found Aaron Ybarra guilty of first-degree murder in the June 2014 shootings at Seattle Pacific University that killed one student and injured two others. Ybarra had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. The jury, acknowledging Ybarra’s history of mental illness, rejected the plea concluding that Ybarra was fully aware of what he was doing and that the crime was premeditated.
Student Paul Lee was killed by Ybarra on the sidewalk outside SPU’s Otto Miller Hall (formerly a municipal railway trolley barn). Thomas Fowler was hit by pellets from the shot that killed Lee. Ybarra attempted to shoot a second person outside Otto Miller Hall, but his gun misfired. Entering the building, Ybarra critically wounded student Sarah Williams and attempted to shoot a second student. Student monitor Jon Meis then tackled Ybarra ending the shootings. Ybarra faces 88 to 111 years in prison. His attorney plans to appeal. (Seattle Times, November 17, 2016, p. B1). For more information see this Seattle Times article and this earlier posting on qahistory.org.