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Downtown Seattle Study Shows More Living, Fewer Working Downtown

Amy Radil

The Downtown Seattle Association delivered its latest "State of Downtown" report today (Wednesday). The report finds that vacancies are fairly low for residential and office space downtown. But the downtown is still recovering from the most severe job losses in the region, and retailers are struggling to compete with merchants online and elsewhere.


The Downtown Seattle Association's "State of Downtown" report finds that 2011 was a good year in Seattle for hotels and tourism. And it says demand for rental housing downtown continues to grow — there are currently about 3,700 new apartments being planned or built by developers. The report says condo prices also increased 11 percent in the downtown last year, while they decreased in Seattle and King County as a whole.

Kate Joncas is the president of the Downtown Seattle Association. She says families with young children are one of the fastest growing groups of downtown residents. But she says the downtown needs more play areas to serve those families and keep them from leaving.

Joncas: "There isn't anything really in the center of town; it's quite a ways to go. You just want to throw your kid in the stroller and go out to the park. That's kind of hard to do in most of downtown. And there's no inside spot for kids."

Her group would also like to see a new public elementary school downtown. Joncas says it's too soon to know whether the jobs picture in downtown Seattle is improving.

The downtown lost 12 percent of its jobs between 2000 and 2010, compared to a loss of 8 percent citywide. And she said the retail sector continues to struggle, although sales were up slightly in 2010. Joncas says merchants are focused on improving the experience downtown by focusing on public safety and special events like the holiday carousel.

Joncas: "Because we know that that brings people from the region and they get to have a positive experience downtown and hope they come back. And our pedestrian counts, which we do twice a year, increased both for our summer and the holiday campaigns."

Joncas says good retail news in the coming year includes the new Nordstrom Rack opening in Westlake Center, renovations at Pike Place Market, and the new smaller format Target store set to open this year on Second Avenue between Pike and Union.

I'm Amy Radil, KUOW News.

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