Next East Howe Steps Gateway Plaza meeting is March 19

Everyone is cordially invited to learn more about this new public space in Eastlake on Thursday, March 19, beginning at 6:30 p.m, at the TOPS-Seward School Library, 2500 Franklin Avenue East.  Please come and see the design for this new public space and meet your neighbors!

The public visioning portion of the East Howe Steps Gateway Plaza Project kicked off on December 11, with a spirited, two-hour Open House meeting of 45 active and engaged members of the Eastlake community, followed by a second Open House on February 5, during which 55 community participants further refined ideas presented and discussed in December.

Facilitated by Debi Frausto and HBB Landscape Architecture, with assistance from members of the project’s Steering Committee, a broad cross-section of Eastlake residents spent time in small groups, brainstorming ideas for the new plaza and sharing their preferences, before coming together as a larger group to vigorously discuss possibilities for this iconic community space.

The finished project will complete the link between Capitol Hill and Lake Union’s Cheshiahud Loop Trail, via the popular East Howe Steps and a thorough revamping of the E. Howe Street Right-of-Way between Eastlake and Fairview Avenues, which passes between two forthcoming developments and will culminate in a new East Howe Steps Gateway Plaza.

Concepts discussed during the first Open House included the notions of a “front porch” for the Eastlake neighborhood—a flexible site that can readily support quiet relaxation, vigorous exercise, and public gathering—and of an “iconic space” that will be both memorable and engaging for the entire Eastlake Community and visitors to the neighborhood.

02 05 15The Front Porch Concept jpg

Steering Committee members and project lead, Brian Ramey, were “stunned by the immediate and overwhelmingly favorable consensus” of the first Open House. The entire committee was also very pleased by the large turnout.

The numerous ideas presented were carefully documented throughout the event and further discussed during subsequent Steering Committee meetings that led into the rousing second Open House on February 5, at which three design concepts were presented and discussed.

The 55 attendees were encouraged to frankly assess three distinct HBB conceptual designs, then freely “mix and match” from those alternatives by recombining the elements each most wanted to see in the new public space. The eventual results provided HBB with a vivid framework for a final design that will incorporate the most desirable elements of all three alternatives into a community preferred concept that best utilizes the available space, while still meshing well within the context of the adjacent developments and Fairview Avenue East.

The design concepts examined during the February 5 Open House included “The Porch,” a curvy design that flows from an elevated “porch” overlooking the water, through terraced steps and into a traditional plaza; “Playfully Active,” which places a “catwalk/perch” above a variety of witty and playful elements at various elevations, allowing lots of flexible and fun uses for all ages; and “Avenue of Lights,” which includes a dazzling use of lighting, color, and various reflective surfaces above, along, and directly underfoot within the pathway, to create a series of “rooms” and a strong connection through the space.

Each design also included varied seating options which could accommodate “exercise stations,” along with extensive landscaping that promises to minimize the amount of paved “hardscape” in an area that is currently little besides pavement and concrete.

Another goal is to create a safe, vibrant, and well-integrated crossing between the plaza and the well-known Cheshiahud Loop Trail, directly south across Fairview Avenue East.

Ultimately, “The Porch” proved a runaway favorite as the overall design concept, while both flexible, inventive lighting and the catwalk/perch idea found broad support and will be integrated into HBB’s final design in some form. The importance of the Fairview Avenue crossing was an additional component that emerged repeatedly during group discussion and will also be addressed in the final conceptual plan.

The upcoming third East Howe Steps Gateway Plaza Open House is intended to present the final result of the community visioning: A conceptual design that fits the space and that will be acceptable to all of the stakeholders, including the East Howe Steps Gateway Plaza Steering Committee, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, the Seattle Parks Foundation (the plaza project’s fiscal agent), and the adjacent private property owners, culminating in a new treasure for the greater Eastlake Community.

Please join us at TOPS-Seward School on Thursday, March 19 at 6:30 p.m., and bring your neighbors. The atmosphere will be friendly and fun. Don’t miss out!

You can reach the members of the East Howe Steps Gateway Plaza Project Steering Committee via:


Mail: 117 East Louisa Street #187, Seattle WA 98102

Phone: 206-271-4744

There’s also a website:

East Howe Steps, Seattle Parks Foundation donation page

East Howe Steps, Facebook Page


By Tom Kipp on behalf of the Project Steering Committee


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