Pine Street Not A Closed Issue - Fight To Reopen It Foreseen

The Battle of Pine Street may rage again.

The developers who are trying to put Nordstrom in the Frederick & Nelson building, Jeffrey Rhodes and Thomas Klutznick, reportedly believe reopening Pine Street is critical to making Seattle's downtown work.

"They want it open so badly, it's going to be a huge issue," said a businessman close to the discussions, who declined to be identified.

Rhodes declined comment, and Klutznick could be reached. But numerous sources confirmed that the developers feel strongly that reopening Pine Street is the key to a prosperous retail core.

Blocked by heavy, cast-concrete planters, the closed portion of Pine now forms part of Westlake Park.

For years, community activists battled downtown business interests to get Pine Street closed. At one point, the Downtown Seattle Association presented the city with keep-open petitions signed by 1,500 merchants, employees and shoppers.

Since the completion of the downtown bus tunnel in 1990, Pine Street traffic has been blocked between Fourth and Fifth avenues.

The victory margin was narrow: The City Council voted to keep Pine Street open, but Mayor Norm Rice vetoed the decision.

The issue of reopening Pine has not come up in the developers' discussions with the city, says Deputy Mayor Bob Watt.

Rice reportedly opposes reopening Pine.

Closure opponents believe it created a bottleneck at Fifth and Pine. They blame the blocked-off stretch of land, in the heart of the retail district, for increased traffic congestion, parking problems and increased drug dealing on Third Avenue, the result, they say, of its being severed from the rest of the retail core.

And they say the closure has walled off the heart of the city's retail area from a major downtown destination, the Pike Place Market.

While closing Pine Street has been popular with pedestrians, some surrounding businesses aren't too happy about it. Jim Mance of The Rouse Co., which runs Westlake Center, opposes the closure. The Bon reportedly wants the street reopened. Nordstrom has stayed out of the discussion.