Our once sleepy little downtown has experienced a tremendous renaissance over the past 20 years becoming a mecca for activities and cultural urban experiences.
With over 25,000 people working in the fields of healthcare, natural resources, high-tech, legal, retail, hospitality, startups, banking and call center – to name a few – opportunities for employment are finally catching up with our city’s stature as a great place to live and raise a family.
Once a place that turned out the lights at 5:00 p.m., downtown plays host to 125 eateries and bars, phenomenal entertainment venues, a retail center expanding its footprint, and an ever-growing bustle of activity on the sidewalks.
This did not happen by accident. Twenty some years ago business and community leaders’ downtown were faced with a dangerous downward spiral not uncommon to urban centers at that time. However, a group of business and community leaders refused to throw in the towel.
It was from that precipice that our organization was birthed with the mission of sustaining and growing the downtown economy by focusing on the basics: cleanliness, safety and vibrancy. Planting, cleaning, patrolling, promoting and supporting existing businesses, recruiting new ones, advocating on behalf of economic development, and addressing urban challenges remain our focus.
All of this is made possible by the time, talent and money provided from the property owners and businesses in downtown and the surrounding region that understand the important role a thriving metropolitan core plays to the economic and social well-being of the greater region.
We are in the early stages of another renaissance: a $65 million expansion of our Convention Center is wrapping up and design work is just beginning on a $60 million rebirth of Riverfront Park.
This summer doors will open at the new $138 million Grand Hotel. The Ridpath housing renovation project edges closer to completion. Development in Kendall Yards races to meet commercial and housing demands. International retail prospects are setting their sights on downtown. Dozens of exciting renovation and new construction projects will break ground or cut ribbons.
Washington State University and University of Washington plan to expand medical school and related life sciences slots in the University District.
Parking meter revenues will continue to fund aesthetic improvements in the core as well as freeway entry points onto Division. Reconstruction of the Lincoln/Monroe Corridor will begin.
In 20 years, we have created a foundation for the future that gives us much to be optimistic about.