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Seattle waterfront viaduct
Many business owners on the waterfront were championing Prop. 1, but now they're worried seawall construction could destroy them. (AP Photo)

Waterfront businesses fear Seattle's new seawall

Voters overwhelmingly approved rebuilding Seattle's deteriorating seawall (77-23). Many business owners on the waterfront were championing Prop. 1, but now they're worried construction could destroy them.

Bob Donegan, president of Ivar's, told KIRO Radio's Ross & Burbank the city said construction would begin after Oct. 1 to avoid a busy summer and tourist season. But now the city says it'll have to start construction after Labor Day if it wants to complete the project by 2016.

The city says there was no such agreement, but Donegan said it was made clear.

"If you talk to any members of the waterfront group about the hundreds of meetings we've had in the past five years, we were all pretty clear and understood that we would not be disturbed in our busy season so we could survive until the project was done."

While Donegan said sales at waterfront retailers were down anywhere from eight to 70 percent this winter while Seattle City Light located electric lines off the viaduct, he is actually more worried about the potential jobs that could be lost.

Ivar's could move around staff to other stores with enough planning time, but he's worried about the other "1,500 family wage jobs that exist on four waterfront piers 54-57."

Donegan said they'll know more about the work schedule in coming months as the city just chose a contractor. He's interested to see if night work is a possibility, but he knows it won't sit well with people who live in the area.

"Our fear for the last five years is that this will be a great park in the end if we can survive to get there," said Donegan.

Stephanie Klein, MyNorthwest.com Editor
Stephanie joined the MyNorthwest.com team in February 2008. She has built the site into a two-time National Edward R. Murrow Award winner (Best Radio Website 2010, 2012).
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