However, in the latter part of the twentieth century, South Lake Union had fallen on hard times. Much of the neighborhood had languished for decades, with uneven development, dilapidated warehouses, gas stations, and snarled commuter traffic notoriously referred to as the “Mercer Mess.” With the completion in the 1960s of I-5 to the East, and bordered to the West by SR-99, the neighborhood was mostly cut off from other parts of the city. That’s when a nonprofit group put forth the idea of creating the Seattle Commons — a 60-acre park proposed to Seattle citizens in the 1990s. Paul and others in the community envisioned a large, central greenspace akin to the Boston Commons or Central Park in New York. It would be ringed by vertical campuses with modern towers that would house knowledge workers in technology, research, and telecommunications companies. Once the committee officially formed, Paul loaned it $20 million (later committing up to $30 million) to buy the seed parcels of property and agreed to donate that money if the public approved the project.