From a Place for Cars to a Place for People: What Does the Future Hold for South Downtown?
The City Council is currently reviewing a proposed rezone of the neighborhoods that make up South Downtown (Pioneer Square, Chinatown/ID, Little Saigon and Japan Town) and taking input from community leaders, developers, residents, retailers and others concerned about the future of the area. This rezone is a once in a generation opportunity to increase residential density and encourage development of many of the surface parking lots in South Downtown into market-rate and workforce housing.
There is perhaps no area north of San Francisco and west of the Mississippi river with a greater concentration of transit investment than South Downtown, and more investment is being made today. But what’s missing is market-rate and workforce housing, and the City’s current height and density limits for these neighborhoods have been insufficient to attract investment and redevelopment.
Surface parking lots still dominate much of the landscape in Pioneer Square and Chinatown/ID and only six market-rate residential projects have been completed in the last 30 years. Over 60% of all the housing in Pioneer Square today is subsidized. Right now, the retail vacancy rate in Pioneer Square is nearly 20 percent, twice that of Downtown. More people living in South Downtown is critical to the health and vibrancy of these neighborhoods.
The interactive map below highlights the areas of South Downtown that are poised for development and increased residential density.
Click here to view an interactive map that highlights parking lots and vacant land in South Downtown. http://www.flickr.com/photos/downtownseattle/sets/72157625962265520/map/
Many fear the current proposal before the City Council is not bold enough and will not attract new investment in South Downtown. For profit and non-profit developers, along with retailers, residents, community leaders and the Downtown Seattle Association have made specific recommendations to the City Council to modify the current rezone proposal so that it is more likely to attract investment in the neighborhoods and spur the redevelopment of surface parking lots. You can review the recommendations of the Downtown Seattle Association here: Livable South Downtown Legislation – Recommended Changes. Also, learn more about the neighborhoods by clicking on this fact sheet: South Downtown Fact Sheet 2011.
The City Council’s Committee on Built Environment will continue its review of the rezone proposal later this month. Be sure to email committee members to share your opinion on the future of South Downtown: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com