No Person’s Land
On Wednesday, a crowd of 30 or 40 people gathered in an unlikely space – a median in the void between Seward and Ventura Village. Sheldon Mains, director of Spokes, described the roadway as a “no person’s land” and explained that it’s “scary for pedestrians and bikes–and not that great for cars.”
Fortunately, it’s not going to stay that way for long. Thanks to a $435,000 ArtPlace grant, the Native American Community Development Institute (NACDI) is planning turn the space into a park and cultural marketplace called Anpetu Was’te Cultural Arts Market.
NACDI hopes that the changes will, “create opportunities for local entrepreneurs, develop needed active community space, improve pedestrian safety, reverse decades of high-crime activity in [the] area, and strengthen Indigenous geographic identity.”
Hestness describes the features of the planned cultural marketplace to a tour group. The area will include food trucks, a stage, and vendor space for artists and entrepreneurs.
Park, Arts Hub, Theater
Competing with the noise of cars and a few sirens, Andy Hestness, NACDI community development specialist, lead a tour of the new plaza to the group gathered on Wednesday. He explained that the area is classified by the city as an activity area, and NACDI wants it to live up to it’s designation. The large median will be redesigned to be more like a park, with a stage for music and theater performances, food trucks, and vendor space for local artists and entrepreneurs.
The current proposed design has a curving path, which is designed to evoke the river. The marketplace would be separated into three sections – a stage area, a market zone with vendor tents and a food truck, and a entry/rest zone.
The project will renovate the center median on E. Franklin Avenue between Cedar Avenue and S. 17th Avenue. Some trees currently in the median would need to be moved.
Fall Construction, Spring Opening
This fall, the streets will be resurfaced and project planners are hoping that at that time they will be able to make a few changes to the roadway to help calm traffic and make it more pedestrian friendly. Some of the changes would include the following:
- Add a bike lane, which would extend to the current bike lane in Seward.
- Increase parking to make it easier for people to visit the new park/marketplace.
- Remove one lane of traffic. Currently, traffic goes from one lane in Seward to two lanes between the LRT and 16th Avenue S and then back to one lane in Ventura Village. Hestness believes that removing a lane will help make it feel less like a “four-way freeway.”
NACDI plans to have the marketplace open next spring with vendors and food trucks scheduled one or two times per week. As interest grows, it plans to expand the amount of time that the space will be open to vendors.