PSBJ: 70,000 resident and counting: downtown Seattle’s growth accelerates

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This article was published in the Puget Sound Business Journal on Feb. 14, 2017

By Marc Stiles

The Downtown Seattle Association on Tuesday rolled out some impressive numbers about growth in the center city.

DSA President & CEO Jon Scholes told the 1,200 people at the sold-out annual State of Downtown meeting that downtown is thriving.

“The prosperity we are seeing everyday right outside this room, and all that is still coming is the proof of the vital role of cities,” he said.

The theme of this year’s breakfast was Cities as Solutions, and focused of the increasing influence of urban areas in the global economy.

The event had a political tone with speakers praising Seattle’s inclusiveness at a time when President Donald Trump has tried to temporarily ban immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries.

To many people it seems that politically, the country is headed in the wrong direction, said King County Executive Dow Constantine, who called Trump’s action on immigration “cruel and clumsy,” but said Seattle remains “enthusiastically open to the world and welcoming to all people.”

“These are confusing troubling times we live in,” said keynote speaker Vishaan Chakrabarti, an immigrant, author of “A Country of Cities” and founder of New York-based Practice for Architecture and Urbanism. He talked about the importance of cities and densification in the era of climate change, technology advances and gentrification.

Chakrabarti called for increasing infrastructure spending to increase density and talked about how that can help solve big challenges.

“We have a lot data that shows that as people live in denser circumstances, more innovation happens and more patent creation happens. It’s because people are running around and running into each other and there’s serendipity and as a consequence there’s innovation,” he said.

This is spurring the greatest economic expansion in the city’s history with construction booming and retail sales soaring. View the slideshow to see some of the growth trends.

         Marc Stiles covers real estate for the Puget Sound Business Journal.