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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

Topic: Downtown Seattle Association

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October 21, 2013 at 11:29 AM

How downtown came back from recession

On Sunday, I wrote about how the recession hit downtown Seattle, using the lens of Fourth Avenue. Thanks to its existing strength with offices, hotels, retail and attractions such as Pike Place Market, downtown came through those bad times pretty well. The downturn hurt exurbia and much of suburbia much worse than it did successful downtowns. Center cities have been quicker to rebound, and Seattle has received a big boost from Amazon’s new headquarters in South Lake Union. Downtown residential continues to grow, too.

A deeper dig shows that ground still needs to be made up. Data from the Downtown Seattle Association show some of the center city’s losses and rebound from the Great Recession. In 2007, the area held 3,700 street-level retail and service businesses. By 2010, that had fallen to 3,453. This year, it has recovered to 3,655.

The Denny Triangle showed the most bounce, from 337 to 384. Capitol Hill, the International District, Pioneer Square, Uptown and the waterfront all show more businesses in 2013 compared with 2007.

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Comments | More in Downtown and urban issues | Topics: Downtown Seatt, Downtown Seattle Association

February 19, 2013 at 11:21 AM

Seattle’s downtown boom

Seattle has more residential units under construction downtown than any other U.S. metropolitan area other than Houston. This includes 6,000 apartments, one-third of all under construction in the Puget Sound region. Population is growing faster than the city as a whole, increasing 24 percent since 2000 vs. 10 percent for the city. Downtown also enjoyed the strongest improvement among employment centers in the region with a 7 percent year-over-year increase in jobs. These are among the findings presented at last week’s 2013 State of Downtown Economic Forum of the Downtown Seattle Association.

“We’re moving in the right direction, but we must continue to develop an environment which attracts and nurtures this growth,” said association President and CEO Kate Joncas. “We need to ensure that downtown is family friendly, which includes developing a downtown public school and rezoning South Lake Union to support the kind of density that will attract families… We have an obligation to ensure that we’re taking a smart approach to our advantages over suburban areas – steps like improving the pedestrian experience, preserving transit and making downtown Seattle the region’s preferred destination to live, work, shop and play.  These are top priorities.”

A prime mover of the activity is Amazon.com, which, along with Paul Allen’s Vulcan Real Estate, has created a trend-setting urban headquarters campus in South Lake Union and is set to build the first of three skyscrapers in the Denny Triangle. But corporate and developer interest goes deeper. For example, R.C. Hedreen is preparing a massive two-tower project on the site of the Greyhound bus station. The downturn-delayed Fifth and Columbia Tower is on again; it would be the tallest building erected here in 20 years. One wonders if the city is adequately protecting the views of the iconic Space Needle.

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Comments | More in Sustainability, Urban issues | Topics: Downtown Seattle Association, R.C. Hedreen, Vulcan