Seattle’s New York Dreams

So, the pretty blue awnings went up this week for the soon to be opened (well, allegedly) Arctic Club Hotel and it’s Juno restaurant (pregnant pause  ; sorry, couldn’t resist), as Seattle’s hard-core Pioneer Square area goes upscale.  At least they’re keeping the venerable walruses on the Arctic Building.  Our office building, nearby, is also soon to be renovated, and we’ve already been warned about cleaning up the clutter on our window sills (even though they can’t be easily seen, unless someone has a telescope spying on us). 

They’ve torn down the annex of the old First United Methodist Church (though, thankfully, have saved the sanctuary) in preparation for a new glass tower.  We’re treated to the sounds of jackhammers and other construction noises.  I already have little doubt that the rents will  be increasing in our own office building once our lease is up in a few years.  We’ve already moved down the street from the beautiful art deco Seattle Tower and I’m not sure where we’ll go next (a co-worker suggested the Kalakala, in the middle of Elliott Bay.)

I guess none of this should surprise me, after seeing the gentrified Pioneer Square website this winter, which seemed to have little to do with what was then (and to a great extent, still is) Pioneer Square’s current reality, but rather a vision of what the elite wish for it’s future.

Where is this all going?  Well, as the Seattle PI unveiled yesterday, the city is planning on lifting height restrictions and filling in the Pioneer Square area and more with high rises on the south side of the ever expanding Seattle downtown.

The sweeping proposal of land-use and other policy changes seeks to make room for 6,000 new housing units and enough office space to support 16,000 additional jobs by 2030 in an area bureaucrats have dubbed “South Downtown,” which includes Little Saigon east of Interstate 5 and the northern tip of Sodo near Qwest Field.

Combine this with the plans to build up the South Lake Union area (on the north side of downtown), as reported in the PI as well, and on the Mayor’s website, and you get a full vision of the coming sprawl of downtown.  Just like Seattle’s original pioneers, our current city big shots seem to envision Seattle as “New York, by and by.”

Myself, I’m not so sure I’m in a “New York State of Mind.”  At least, not for Seattle.

More on this topic at a later point.  I leave you with the walruses.

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