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Community Open Space Initiatives: Nihonmachi

  • Panama Hotel - contains both the oldest intact example of a sento (Japanese public bathhouse), and the bustling storefront teahouse that maintains character and street level usage

  • Nippon Kan Theatre - Japanese community theater and meeting hall (now turned into a courier office)

  • Kobe Terrace Park – terraced hillside public park adorned with a Stone Lantern gift from Kobe sister city, Mt. Fuji cherry trees, and pathways winding alongside I-5.

  • Danny Woo Community Garden – approx. 100 garden plots on a terraced hillside; intended users are predominantly low-income Asian seniors.

Current Conditions

Today, surface parking lots occupy a large percent- age of open space in Nihonmachi. These spaces can be seen in light grey on the Pedestrian and Facade Analysis Map (p5). Undoubtedly, these parking lots detract from the vitality and the sequential town ex- perience from this neighborhood. The Pedestrian and Facade Analysis Map (p5) also analyses the friendli- ness of the facade, or how aesthetically pleasing, scale appropriate, and well fitting for the neighbor- hood the building facades are. Most structures are mixed-use and house residential and office spaces above the street level. Small retail spaces occupy the ground level of most of the buildings. As shown on the Historic Map (p6), this tendency has continued from the pre-war period and it is one of the signifi- cant features of the historic urban fabric of the area.

Future Development

Nihonmachi is expected to change into a residential area in the next few decades. Future development plans will influence the neighborhood character significantly.

The northern part of Nihonmachi is defined by Yesler Way and extends half a block south from Main Street. It is currently changing into a high density residential area. The parcels in yellow/orange on the Future Devel- opment Map (p5) are currently under development. Two parcels are slated for middle-high income family type housing. Both are mid-height buildings and cover 100 percent of their lots. The areas that are rich in possibili- ties for development are in red/orange on the aforemen- tioned map. In this context, the historic part of Japantown is expected to serve as the core of the neighborhood.

Maneki Restaurant

Panama Hotel

Danny Woo Entrance

Takohachi Restaurant

Corner Store

Exemplary Facades

  • . Neighborhood Assets / Issues

Assets

There are a number of assets that the neighborhood possesses. The district has a rich history that has left behind a number of great landmarks such as the Pan- ama Hotel, NP Hotel, Danny Woo Garden, Nippon Kan Theatre, and Kobe Terrace Park. The district has a legacy of community involvement, an inspiring amount of pride in their community, a trend of gardening for subsistence that increases the consumption of cultur- ally appropriate food, nutritious vegetables and overall community health. The community is also blessed with dramatic views of the city of Seattle that make climb- ing the hills in the area worthwhile. The neighborhood also has a great deal of space that can be developed in a way that benefits the community. As seen on the Land Use Map (p3) the many parking lots in the area can become valuable open space, mixed use develop- ments, commercial or residential space, etc. Current- ly, Nihonmachi is host to incredible restaurants such as Takohachi, Maneki, and Tsukushinbo.

Issues

Nihonmachi is a neighborhood with a number of major issues as well. The area is bisected by a major free-

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