Protecting Neighborhood Character: Pike/Pine's Conservation Overlay District
Piona, Amber Elena
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In 2009 Seattle established the city’s first conservation district in the Pike/Pine neighborhood. This conservation district was a significant new approach to preservation in Seattle. Seattle has a robust historic preservation program for the past 45 years, including eight historic districts and over 450 individual landmarks. The Pike/Pine Conservation Overlay District (PPCOD) is not a historic district. While Seattle’s historic districts are primarily concerned with the protection of historic resources, the conservation district attempts to integrate historic preservation into broader neighborhood planning goals and in so doing maintain the neighborhood’s essential cultural identity while still allowing for growth and change over time. Rather than preserve architectural character, the PPCOD is focused on preserving “neighborhood character,” a term which in this context includes the architecture, culture/use (specifically arts and LGBTQ or queer uses), housing, and social/income diversity characteristics of the neighborhood. This work looks at how Pike/Pine’s neighborhood character has been defined in planning documents, how the PPCOD functions and how the character as defined by the PPCOD has changed since it was established. One of the major appeals of the Pike/Pine neighborhood to developers has been the vibrancy, the authentic quirkiness of the neighborhood. The PPCOD was designed to help balance the newer, wealthier businesses with the older quirky ones. The goal is not to freeze the neighborhood in time, but to maintain visual (i.e. the neighborhood’s past as a visible and unifying element in the neighborhood) and cultural continuity (that the community is not completely replaced). A study of how well (or poorly) the Pike/Pine Conservation Overlay District is at protecting what the various elements of what gives this neighborhood a unique sense of place is useful to see the strengths of existing neighborhood planning policy and see places in which could be improved..
- Urban planning