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City looks to permanently ‘pedestrianize’ a block of King Street

The 100 block of King Street has been closed to cars for over a year, and now the city is looking to make the change permanent.

At an upcoming meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 5, the Planning Commission is docketed to review a proposal by city staff to permanently turn the 100 block of King Street between Lee Street and Union Street into a pedestrian zone.

The plan had been in the works as a pilot since 2019 and came into effect in early 2020 as a way of helping businesses in the area expand their outdoor dining options.

According to the staff report:

As the City began the re-opening process, staff developed a Temporary Outdoor Business permit for restaurant, retail, and fitness business to use adjacent parking spaces for conducting business outdoors. Given the concentration of restaurants and pedestrians along the 100 block of King Street, as well as the desire to provide expansive space for pedestrians to safely maintain distance, staff worked with the businesses to modify the King Street Place concept and close the 100 block to all car traffic, which took effect on May 29, 2020. The temporary street closure was later approved by the Council and extended several times. The closure is currently approved through April 1, 2022.

The report said the closure has been well-received by the community.

“Over 2,700 responses were provided on a call for feedback about the temporary street closure,” the report said. “Of resident respondents, 89% had a positive experience with the 100 block street closure and 92% of residents responded that they wanted to see the closure continue into the future. Throughout the closure, 100 block of King Street businesses periodically expressed support for the closure. Most recently at an August outreach meeting, a majority of businesses from the block noted their interest in a permanent closure.”

The closure would maintain a 22-foot emergency vehicle easement down the center of the street.

The city proposed adding a 5-foot-wide pedestrian path along both sidewalks between the buildings and the curb, with the remaining area on the sidewalk and in the parking lane available to businesses through a permitting process.

“If approved, staff will use allocated American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding for short term improvements for this block, such as new barricades, street furniture, and signage,” the report said. “A more permanent design for the block would be considered through the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) budget and in coordination with other projects in the Waterfront.”

The City Council is scheduled to review the closure at a public hearing next month.

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