by Dan Savage
on Sat, Oct 6, 2012 at 1:46 PM
Good thing we blocked construction of the Seattle Commons, huh? As anti-Commons campaigners assured us in the mid-1990s, building a 70+ acre park in South Lake Union would've been a big giveaway to Paul Allen and other developers. Voting down the Commons—twice—not only assured the preservation of low-income housing in South Lake Union and saved light industry that neighborhood, it also made sure that developers like Paul Allen couldn't make money off that neighborhood. I mean, man, just think of all the money Allen would've made if there was a park down there, huh? There would probably be two or three Tom Douglas restaurants in South Lake Union now if we'd built the commons.
But, hey, we really showed Paul Allen.* Good work, gang!
* The person at most fault for the failure of the Seattle Commons is Paul Allen. The billionaire co-founder of Microsoft asked voters to approve $250 million in new taxes to build the park. During the second Commons campaign Allen made $1 billion during a stock rally on a single day. If Allen had any sense—or any decent advisors around him—he would've cashed out a quarter of that day's haul and given the city the $250 million and asked the mayor to name the park after his mother. Allen Park would've been his legacy.
That didn't happen, of course, because Allen is more carny than Carnegie. The Experience Music Project and Totally Awesome Science Fiction Stuff and Museum—what Allen thinks of as his legacy—will be a Taco Time fifteen minutes after he dies.
And, yes, Allen would've benefited from the construction of the Seattle Commons. But he was going to be benefit—he was going to make money—one way or another.