More than 1,100 DSA Members, Civic Leaders Gather for 19th Annual State of Downtown

Posted on


DSA’s 19th annual State of Downtown event gathered more than 1,100 DSA members and civic leaders at the Seattle Convention Center Summit building earlier this month. Thanks to everyone who joined us as we showcased exciting transformations coming to downtown while addressing the challenges impacting a full revitalization.

Signaling a new era of partnership between City Hall and the business community, Seattle City Council President Sara Nelson discussed council priorities for downtown. Notably, a majority of the Seattle City Council attended the event, underscoring the importance of downtown in driving Seattle’s progress.

Featured speakers Joy Shigaki and Leslie Koch highlighted the big changes taking place on Seattle’s central waterfront with updates on Waterfront Park and Elliott Bay Connections, respectively. City Attorney Ann Davison, Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz and CARE Department Acting Director Amy Smith participated in a panel discussion about key issues impacting downtown, including drugs, untreated mental health and public safety. Thanks to KOMO TV Senior Reporter Chris Daniels for moderating.

In his annual address, DSA President & CEO Jon Scholes reflected on downtown’s progress and the challenges that persist. On the upside, downtown is revitalizing from an enviable base. Unlike many urban areas, our center city supports a diverse mix of uses that builds on the office to include arts and cultural venues, stadiums, major attractions and a record residential population. Seattle benefits from a strong brand that continues to attract visitors from across the nation and the world. The public and private sectors are investing heavily in downtown, and incidents of violent crime were down in 2023.

Despite these promising trends, street disorder and human suffering are up, fueled increasingly by the fentanyl epidemic centered in downtown — a crisis that has squarely converged with homelessness, taking a record number of lives over the past year. And continuing a pattern that began before the pandemic, locals are not returning to downtown at the same pace as out-of-town visitors. Small businesses, arts and cultural organizations, restaurants and retailers cannot fully recover without them.

To delve deeper into these issues, explore our 2024 State of Downtown Report (released in conjunction with this event), which provides comprehensive insights into downtown’s current state and future prospects.