Ground Floor Retail and Cultural Vitality

Downtown’s blend of internationally-renowned flagship stores, specialty markets, independent shops and restaurants offer something for everyone. These approximately 2,200 street-level businesses are crucial to Seattle’s economic vitality.

DSA cultivates downtown’s vibrant retail experience through business development services. Applying a comprehensive approach, DSA:

  • Supports existing and emerging economic clusters through advocacy and coordination
  • Provides business retention and development support services to existing building owners and tenants
  • Identifies desirable business types for specific geographic focus areas
  • Coordinates public projects with private investments to improve curb appeal and the public realm
  • Engages business owners and property owners in curating a unique retail environment
  • Generates earned media and builds positive energy for downtown retail by highlighting relevant trends
  • Conducts best practice and quantitative research to apply lessons learned from successful business districts around the country
  • Tracks data, including demographic data, street-level retail and services, development projects, property ownership, ground-floor vacancies, and other complementary data

DSA also leads studies to inform retail and storefront design in downtown:

  • Best Practices Guide for Downtown Retail: In partnership with Callison/RTKL, DSA developed a guide that illustrates examples of quality retail and storefront design. This guide also calls on best practices used to influence the design of new developments.
  • The Value of Ground-Floor Retail: Ground-floor shops invite people to shop, eat, drink, experience Seattle’s unique culture, relax, meet with friends and colleagues and exchange ideas. DSA completed a study in Feb. 2019 better gauge the economic value of active ground floor retail and understand the needs of building owners. The study found a growing trend of building owners converting underutilized lobbies and ground-floor areas into spaces for new retail and restaurants. These properties reflect a new standard where tenants expect ground-floor retail and restaurants as building amenities.