Residents get a closer look at 4th Avenue Cultural Corridor design

The maps and conceptual art of the 4th Avenue Cultural Corridor are spread out in front of the Edmonds Center for the Arts for those attending the July 29 event.

A group of about 30 Edmonds residents gathered in front of the Edmonds Center for the Arts last weekend to learn more about design updates for the City of Edmonds’ proposed 4th Avenue Cultural Corridor Project.

Speakers included Todd Tatum, Edmonds’ community, culture and economic development director, and consultants Paul Fuesel and Phuong Nguyen from engineering firm KPG Psomas.

The 4th Avenue Cultural Corridor has been under discussion since 2004, and it was the centerpiece of the city’s successful application to become the state’s first Creative District. In May 2022, the City of Edmonds received a $34,000 grant from the Washington State Arts Commission (ArtsWA) to complete conceptual design work on the northern section. The Edmonds City Council approved allocating $34,000 that matches the state grant, and the Edmonds Center for the Arts also contributed $20,000 to the project.

The idea behind the corridor — which covers the section of 4th Avenue stretching from Main Street to the Edmonds Center for the Arts (ECA) on Daley Street — is to provide a space for cultural events and street artists that also feature art elements and a pocket park.

A rendering of what the front of the Edmonds Center for the Arts could look like after the 4th Avenue Cultural Corridor project is completed.
A map of 4th Avenue North and nearby streets around the Edmonds Center for the Arts.
A sample of what kinds of art could be seen on the 4th Avenue Corridor and how they may be displayed.

Earlier plans did not include a design for the north end of 4th Avenue North and the Edmonds Center for the Arts (ECA). The proposed plan presented July 29 includes:

  • Expanding the front area of the ECA
  • A busker performance plaza just northwest of the ECA
  • A seated wall and steps that face 4th Avenue North
  • Sculptures on the north and south corners of the ECA block
  • Artwork at the intersections of 4th Avenue North and Daley Street, Edmonds Street, Bell Street and Main Street.

The project’s goal is to improve the “pedestrian experience” on 4th Avenue North, highlighting the historical buildings that were established in Edmonds’ early years, showcasing local art and providing a space for events while maintaining vehicle access for residents who live on the street.

Edmonds resident Clayton Moss, left, chats with consultant Paul Fuesel.

“At first glance, I like that the preliminary concept illustrations suggest ways to improve pedestrian safety by raising the surface level of the crosswalks and highlighting them with artistic imagery,” said Clayton Moss, an Edmonds resident who is the creative director of FORMA on 4th Avenue, and who attended the open house “I also like the idea of increasing the width of the existing sidewalks to better accommodate handicap access (and baby stroller traffic) along the corridor, and that this change could be done in a manner that is respectful to the existing yards and historic assets along 4th Avenue,” Moss added.

But some of those attending questioned whether the investment is worth the “relatively small return” of activity.

“The project is done. We got this magnificent street here,” said one resident, referring to the Luminous Forest roadway lights art installation put in place in 2016. “But it’s very poorly utilized because of the infrequency of events at the center (Edmonds Center for the Arts) here. Is that a concern?”

A resident asks a question about potential traffic and pedestrian issues that might arise as a result of the 4th Avenue Cultural Corridor Project.

Fuesel replied that the intent of the project was not to “have people going to restaurants and coming back up to an event every day. If the ECA and the Public Facilities District do an improvement here, this will be a strolling tour to stop here and take a look at the art. Not only the big art but we’re proposing its own little gallery. It’s just a cool place to hang out for half an hour. It’s intended for people to hang out unless it’s programmed,” he added.

In addition, there will likely be picnic tables and food trucks along the corridor, Fuesel said.

Some residents who live between 4th and 6th Avenues North. were concerned about the increased vehicle traffic that may impact their property and privacy, especially those who use their driveways as a three-point turn.

Paul Fuesel, left, chief creative officer of KPG Psomas, describes the proposed changes along the 4th Avenue Corridor. At right, landscape architect Phuong Nguyen holds a map that shows 4th Avenue North and streets near the Edmonds Center for the Arts.

Fuesel did not have an answer to that, but he noted it as feedback for the city to address.

“My question is, what is the goal for 4th Avenue in five or 10 years,” asked Moss. “Is the plan to preserve the character of the neighborhood/street as is or is it going to change to commercial and/or condominiums? Whatever the plan is now needs to be consistent with future zoning or development, if any, of the street.”

Moss also pointed out that another city road project — the Dayton Street improvement project — was completed  “relatively quickly.” Like Dayton, 4th Avenue needs similar repairs, and the construction and traffic management processes should be similar, Moss speculated.

Attendees in front of the Edmonds Center for the Arts to learn about the project.

A block party on 4th Avenue North and Bell Street is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 26, from 3 to 5 p.m., during which residents and visitors can meet with project staff and experience how the Cultural Corridor may look and function in the future.

“I agree with the initial key elements and goals for the project. My concern is what is all of this leading up to?” Moss said. “4th Avenue becoming a destination unto itself is fine, but we need to make certain that it is done in a manner that protects the quality of life for the local residents and the character of the neighborhood.”

— Story and photos by Nick Ng

  1. While we are cutting funds for arts and music education in our school district, we are spending money on “Creative District” signs and labels around town. It’s utter nonsense. I’d would forgo all of this and give the money to fund arts education in our school system. That’s what matters.

    1. I am empathetic to your opinion Beth and you’re right our schools should be well funded, however there are many moving parts in the bureacratic political system. Unfortunately, I do not think there is a direct connection between funding creative district signs and education. IE if we spent no money on the signs and labels, that money would not be funneled directly to education, the budget process is much more complex than that. I think it is good to spend money on our creative district, and it is also good to spend money on education. A positive approach to discourse can go a long way!

    2. Thank you! If we fail arts education, who will be equipped to appreciate he arts corridor in years to come?

  2. We don’t even have ongoing dedicated funding in our general fund to do routine work on our roads. Our current administration (under Mayor Nelson) is proposing we use 8.5 million $’s in one time ARPA fund grant money to fund our fire service contract which is a recurring cost with no specific on going funding mechanism in our budgeting I’m told.

    Pardon me if I don’t get all warm and fuzzy about this 4th. Ave. pedestrian centered glory walk. Seems like we have bigger fish that need to be fried first. But then, we have never been very good at doing first things first. We are pretty good at scaring the H out of people to get legacy projects approved for our various fearless leaders’ aggrandizement, past and present.

    1. Aw, Clinton – you’re always warm and fuzzy! 🙂

      Being the heretic I am though, I’ d’ruther have repaired sidewalk where I can walk without having to eye the ground all the time, or – radical idea! – new sidewalks where there aren’t any. Or “reminder” lights on the stop signs at busy intersections. Or an effort made to add parking in the bowl.

      Art is wonderful, but safety and livability are pretty nice too. And I wonder how many people actually like what is proposed?

  3. You just know how I hate to tell you, you are wrong Nathanial, but our currently leading mayoral candidate said in the debate something to the affect that he loves tourists and wants to treat them right because they come to visit and then leave. And so the beat goes on my friend – WANTS always over NEEDS should be the Edmonds’ official government motto. And, no Mr. leading Candidate, in case you are unlucky enough to win, these little jabs aren’t going to go away until they pry the computer from my cold dead hands. Apologies to past NRA Pres. Charlton Heston for stealing his line.

  4. I hope there is a meaningful debate of deep substance between the two winners of the right to run for our most powerful position in town. If Mr. Nelson moves on, he needs to have to vigorously defend his record while in office, so far, and what he might do to make things better. If Mr. Rosen moves on, he needs to have to vigorously indicate what specific things he will be doing to make things better and how he will honor the fact that the citizens are indeed at the top of the organization chart.

    If we are going to vote for change; we best have some idea of what the change will consist of. I would suggest that such a debate should be exclusively conducted by our now publicly owned newspaper and that the two eliminated candidates be allowed to be on the question asking panel if they would like to be. My suggested criteria for the debate hold for all four candidates, as they are applicable, should places change in the final count. Change is never automatically a good thing based only on supposition about someone’s talents. Deep substance is needed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Real first and last names — as well as city of residence — are required for all commenters.
This is so we can verify your identity before approving your comment.

By commenting here you agree to abide by our Code of Conduct. Please read our code at the bottom of this page before commenting.