• PBC
  • SEATTLE: Dead?

We get sad/angry e-mails all the time about Seattle neighborhoods that have died: Capitol Hill, Ballard, Georgetown. The e-mails usually focus on one specific landmark's closing and then conclude that this closing signifies the death of that particular neighborhood. Many of these neighborhoods have died more than once. Some of them die a couple times a month.

In an e-mail titled "Wake up, Seattle!," a person named Pam informs us that the problem is not just one neighborhood anymore. Apparently, all of Seattle is dying. Pam writes:

Look around, do you see what is happening? Seattle is losing its soul. Allentown rules South Lake Union, independent businesses (Queen Anne Easy Street, Alki Tavern, E.E. Robbins and many more) are going going gone because you choose the Internet and growth over community and true, meaningful connection. Build it!! The bigger the better!!! The little sunlight filtering down from above, gracing our lives and streets, filling our beings with happiness and goodwill, disappears under construction as we stumble. Look at the cranes, the closed "due to construction" streets. Don't come complaining to us, the displaced, when you recognize the deep, dark empty space you are forced to live in. Grow some balls and keep Seattle unique. Or, be complacent, cash in on the abyss, pat yourself on the back and know we fucking despise you.

On the one hand, people complaining about density in neighborhoods surrounding downtown get none of my sympathy. If you're against a lot of people living closely together in large buildings, there are many other places (places in the greater Seattle area, even!) where you can live. And people have been pronouncing Seattle dead for a very long time.

On the other hand, Seattle sure does feel awful bubble-like lately, doesn't it? There's so much construction happening everywhere that I'm reminded of Seattle in 2000, or 2008. And worse, it's all aimless, unfocused construction of the kind where everyone is building the exact same type of building over and over again—luxury condos, with retail on the ground floor—and some of them are certainly doomed to fail. How much retail-on-the-ground-floor does Seattle need? Shouldn't we be smarter about growth, and consider holistically what this city needs? Even worse, all of the construction is aimed at the wealthy, and in today's America, we all know that there are only a limited number of wealthy people to go around. So I can understand that part of Pam's frustration. But what do you think?