The Patio

During the pandemic, our local community came together.

We created an outdoor, socially distanced, covered space where people could gather safely, get food and beverage from local establishments, and literally “weather out” the COVID pandemic. We christened this area “The Patio.”

We raised the funds for the Patio shelter in less than four hours via a GoFundMe effort. The shelter, lights, tables, and chairs went up. Families, friends, and communities came together daily in the joy and relief of having an outdoor space to connect. Friends met for cards, neighbors visited, bands played, dance parties happened, money was raised for the Rainier Valley Food Bank and other local causes. Fiddlers gathered weekly, Beatwalk kept going, and our businesses were able to keep their doors opened and their employees on the payroll.

Best of all, this area gave the community a unique space to gather with each other during an extremely difficult time for all of us.

The Patio during Covid

The Festival Street

After several design iterations it became clear that a “Festival Street” approach was the best fit for Columbia City’s complex needs and capabilities at this point in time. 

The Ferdinand Festival Street will maintain two-way traffic and still provide independent seating space, with the option to easily close the street to vehicles for events. Click here to see the concept. 

Imagine this: You and your family are strolling through Columbia City. You arrive at the east intersection of Rainier and Ferdinand, where there is a band playing live music. Families and friends are eating and drinking from the various restaurants along the Rainier corridor. Children are playing safely nearby, while folks talk across tables and new friendships are made. People who are just looking for a place to kick back and people-watch can do just that without purchasing anything. All the while, our businesses are thriving.

The Ferdinand Festival Street will be a hub of activity. It’s good for our community in terms of safety, experience, connection, diversity, the earth, and our local businesses. It’s the next step in Columbia City’s ongoing journey to be the best neighborhood anyone could ask for.

What Comes Next?

As Covid restrictions waned in 2021 and the temporary Patio permits reached their expiration, concerned residents and local businesses began to discuss what could come next.

An online survey commissioned in February 2022 received more than 500 responses from neighborhood residents, workers, and businesses. The results of that survey can be seen here.

The survey revealed strong community support for creating a permanent pedestrian-friendly, outdoor space incorporating art, plants and seating. Respondents desired a place where the Columbia City community could connect, hang out, host events, experience live music and performance, and spend time together. No purchase necessary!

However the issue of whether to close down some, or all of the vehicular traffic on Ferdinand remained controversial. In particular, many local businesses were concerned about access to parking for their clientele. This issue was also complicated by restrictions from City of Seattle agencies such as Seattle Public Utilities and Seattle Department of Transportation.

Follow-up engagement included dozens of conversations with local business, property owners, and neighborhood stakeholders. Public outreach events were also held during many Beatwalk and the Seattle Design Festival (Fall 2022).