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Community Liaison on Rebuilding the Ave
The Seattle Department of Transportation (DOT) planned an extensive renovation of University Way ("the Ave") in the University District. The University District community chose Urban Relations to act as the project's liaison to the district businesses and residents.

This huge project significantly impacted local businesses. A full ten blocks was reconstructed: all new streets and sidewalks; bus bulbs and shelters; electrical, gas and water upgrades; streetlights and pedestrian lights and over 100 new street trees.

Often, with construction projects such as this, local residents have little information about what is going on. From the outset, we took a proactive approach based on full disclosure of information. We provided extensive community relations during the 13-month reconstruction, public relations consulting, major events creation and execution, and printed informational materials.

Event Planning:
For the groundbreaking, we created an engaging and educational large-format pop-up book that illustrated each of the new features the new Ave would sport when finished. The pop-book exactly represented the block in which the groundbreaking took place, creating a strong link to the coming reality.

We then celebrated the conclusion of the project with a ten-block street party, dubbed the Ave-A-New. Utilizing very substantial volunteerism from the business community, we created a low-budget, very successful event that attracted thousands to see the newly rebuilt Ave.

Public Relations:
At the annual University District Street Fair, just prior to the start of construction, we mounted a funny, eye-catching booth to draw attention to the upcoming project. The booth attracted families and individuals, helping to spread the word about the soon-to-be-gorgeous Ave.

Community Liaison for Rebuilding the Ave:
Most significantly, our staff were on the Ave every week, attending construction meetings and then hand-delivering a weekly newsletter to every business informing them of what to expect throughout the project.

Urban Relations brought a unique set of skills to this community relations challenge: the staff member assigned, Art Brochet, has a degree in engineering and construction management and graduate studies in public policy. With this combination of skills he understood the construction sequence and could explain it clearly to affected businesses and residents.

Marketing Materials:
Communication with the larger community was equally important in order to maintain support for the project and encourage surrounding residents to visit the new Ave. A four-page newsletter detailing the project and its mission was sent to 35,000 local residents once during the holidays, and once in the spring, updating residents on construction progress and inviting them to see the finished portion and shop the Ave.


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