Once a scruffy, underused green space shunned by area residents and passers-by due to safety concerns, the block-square park bounded by 15th, 16th, P and Q streets today is a smartly landscaped center of neighborhood activity. Weekdays see parents with small children enjoying the playground and office workers pausing on their way to the light-rail station nearby. Hot Italian, a restaurant bordering the square, sponsors a Hot Lunch Concert Series on summer Thursdays, while a farmers’ market is held Tuesdays from May to December. Weekends bring everything from food-truck gatherings to group picnics, concerts, sporting events and the highly popular Chalk it Up sidewalk art festival on Labor Day weekend. Nighttime lighting and increased attention from the city’s parks and police departments also have contributed to the turnaround, creating a feeling of security for all who frequent the square.
With the vision and assistance of CADA, the neighborhood has over the past two decades established a reputation as one of the region’s best examples of a transit-oriented, smart-growth community. CADA has developed or assisted in projects ranging from the restoration of historic structures to construction of new landmarks of urban design. The Stanford Park Townhomes project, completed in 1986, began the neighborhood transformation. It was followed by the Fremont Building, Capitol Park Townhomes, East End State Office Complex and Fremont Mews, which together created a rich residential/commercial mix in the blocks surrounding the park. More recently, CADA completed the Legado de Ravel, a six-story luxury apartment complex; and 16Powerhouse, a residential project including apartments and ground-floor retail is well underway. A community garden on 14th Street is shared by all, and some of the city’s most highly regarded restaurants have put down roots in the neighborhood.