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Seattle Parks and Recreation Opens Fritz Hedges Waterway Park, new waterfront park on Portage Bay

Seattle Parks and Recreation is happy to announce the opening of Fritz Hedges Waterway Park, 1117 Northeast Boat Street. The new 3.5-acre waterfront park on Portage Bay with one pier and a kayak launch point offers a range of experiences within a compact area, a small beach, open lawn space, terraces, picnic area and the pier with colorful park furnishings. SPR will be organizing an official opening celebration next spring in conjunction with boating season.

The project provided extensive shoreline restoration and enhancement to support native species including juvenile salmon. The building on site was demolished and building elements were re-used throughout the park. The new park project also made improvements to the right-of-way and is seamlessly integrated into the University of Washington campus and the adjacent Sakuma Viewpoint.

“This park truly captures Seattle Parks and Recreation’s values of Healthy People, Healthy Environment and Strong Communities,” said Jesús Aguirre, Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent. “The park offers shoreline access and a place for launching kayaks, the project improved the shoreline habitat for salmon and the park as a whole offers great recreation opportunities in the dense urban environment.”  

Interpretive elements will be located throughout the site that tie into one of two historical narratives – the use of the Portage Bay Trail by Native Americans and the more recent maritime history. The interpretive elements are planned to be installed later this year. 

Walker Macy, the design team for the park project worked with Seattle Parks and Recreation and the community to design the park. The park offers the University of Washington (UW) campus a Portage Bay connection and will connect UW’s open space system with the City’s overall open space network.

“Access to parks and green spaces is essential for healthy communities, especially now that the pandemic has made outdoor recreation so important to our happiness and well-being. This new waterfront park is a beautiful and welcome addition to our neighborhood and the UW community appreciates all the hard work and collaboration that made it possible,” said President Ani Mari Cauce, University of Washington.

In 2013, UW transferred the property to the City of Seattle as part of a series of transactions among the UW, the City and the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) in connection with WSDOT’s SR 520 Program. WSDOT provided funds to the UW to facilitate the property transfer to Seattle Parks and Recreation so the property could be developed into a park as mitigation for the SR 520 Program’s impacts to the Washington Park Arboretum and East Montlake Park. WSDOT also provided funding for the development of the park.

Dawn Yankauskas, SR 520 & AWV Director of Project Development with WSDOT, shared her strong support for the park. “We’re thrilled that WSDOT could provide significant funding for this incredible new park along Portage Bay, as part of our SR 520 construction mitigation efforts. The park will offer a great resource for the community to enjoy water access and open space and is a result of WSDOT’s strong partnership with the City of Seattle, as well as the University of Washington. We look forward to celebrating with everyone in the future when we can all safely gather together.”

The site began as a lumber mill owned by Puget Sound Box & Lumber Co. until it was purchased and turned into Bryant’s Marina and boat sales. The UW then purchased the property in 1970’s and was used for various activities including the UW Police Station and recycling center.  

The new park in Portage Bay is named after Fredrick “Fritz” Hedges who was a long-term Seattle Parks and Recreation professional, last serving as the Director of Policy, Planning and Evaluation. Fritz dedicated his life to the idea that parks and recreation are vital components of urban life for all residents.

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