Though it’s currently just a big grassy field with a parking lot and a few trees, there are elaborate plans for the future of Jimi Hendrix Park.
Years in the making, Seattle officially broke ground a few weeks ago for the planned 2.5 acre park, which is located in the Central District next to the Northwest African American Museum. The event included guest speaker Janine Hendrix, founder/director of the Jimi Hendrix Foundation, as well as a performance from Ayron Jones & the Way.
Originally Colman Park in front of its namesake school, the park was renamed Jimi Hendrix Park and opened to the public in 2006, with funding from the 2000 Pro Parks Levy. In subsequent years the groups Friends of Jimi Hendrix Park and the Jimi Hendrix Foundation were formed and partnered together to see the project through. They have since raised north of one million dollars for the development.
“In 2006, there was memorandum of understanding between the museum and the Seattle Parks Department to create a space that would honor Jimi Hendrix,” said Maisha Barnett, project manager of the Jimi Hendrix Park Foundation. “That’s how it first came into being.”
To date, some of the major funders include $500,000 from the Parks and Green Spaces Levy, $176,000 from the Department of Neighborhoods, $50,000 from the Seattle Parks Foundation, and $20,000 from the Nisqually Indian Tribe. The Jimi Hendrix Foundation has also partnered with Hard Rock International and garnered a percentage of the distribution of t-shirt sales, so far totaling upwards of $680,000.
And there have been countless donations from individuals and smaller groups. “It’s been a true partnership of private and public funding,” said Barnett.
For the creation of the park, the Jimi Hendrix Foundation looked to have public input at every stage of the process, from design to fundraising to programming. A landscape architect was chosen after a lengthy selection process and three public design meetings were held.
The public input seemed to be divided into two strains: hardcore Hendrix fans who wanted the park to be more of a concert venue, and those who lived near the park and wanted something a little quieter and more manageable.
“The performance area is not too large so it doesn’t attract extremely large events, but we still have a performance area, which we call the central plaza… The design we have now is a compromise,” said Barnett.
From above, the park is projected to look like a psychedelic, wavy guitar, surrounded at the base by a spiral flower composed of curved pathways and trees. Along the guitar will be a chronological timeline of Hendrix’s life, which will be framed by the lyrics to songs “Little Wing” and “Angel.” This path will end at the central plaza where there will be formal seating and a space for performances.At the north end of the park, a “shadow wave wall” will evoke the image of sound wave patterns, with silhouette cutouts of Hendrix on each end, framing an image of him in the middle. As the sun shifts overhead, inverted shadows of Hendrix performing will be cast on the ground.
There are also plans for a rain garden, a butterfly garden, and a wall containing Hendrix’s signature, all intended to be a celebration of Hendrix’s life and legend.
The project has been divided into two phases, with phase one, dubbed “Little Wing,” set to potentially begin construction during the summer of 2015. Further funding is needed for the completion of phase two, which includes the stage and shadow wall.
Donations to the park can be made here: jimihendrixparkfoundation.org/donate.php
Jimi Hendrix Park
2400 S Massachusetts St