DSA Virtual Access with Feliks Banel

A new series to keep you informed about the impacts of coronavirus and related issues affecting downtown and our city


Presented by

Amazon logo in color

Downtown Recovery: A Return to the Office

Thursday, April 22
9–10 a.m.



This event is open to members, nonmembers and MID ratepayers.

Register Today

Downtown Seattle was the first urban core in the country to experience the economic impacts of COVID-19. In March 2020, more than 70% of downtown office workers shifted to remote work. Now that we’re in Phase 3 of reopening, employers are considering their return to downtown.

Join us on Thursday, April 22 for our next DSA Virtual Access event. Presented by Amazon, our three-part spring series will focus on various aspects of downtown recovery, including returning to the office.

In April, we’ll discuss the practical considerations of getting people back to work in the heart of the city. What are the health implications employers and employees need to consider as they contemplate a return to the office? What can workers expect of our transit system as they begin coming back? What do we know about employers’ timelines for returning and how will offices change moving forward?

Join us as we welcome our panel of experts, including Dr. Vin Gupta, public health policy expert and critical care physician, Alex Hudson, executive director of Transportation Choices Coalition and Kris Richey Curtis, managing director of JLL.

Amazon’s Senior Manager of Public Policy, Jared Axelrod, will also provide opening remarks.


Feliks Banel

 Feliks Banel
Historian, Producer & Host, Kiro Radio

Feliks is a producer, host and historian for KIRO Radio and editor of “Columbia,” the quarterly magazine of the Washington State Historical Society. He was deputy director of MOHAI from 1999-2006 and has produced multiple Emmy-nominated pieces for KCTS and the Seattle Channel.


Kris Richey Curtis

Kris Richey Curtis
Managing Director, Jones Lang LaSalle Brokerage Inc.

Kris has been active in Seattle’s commercial real-estate and business community for more than 16 years. At JLL, she specializes in brokerage and consulting services for corporate, tech, biotech and healthcare clients, including many large downtown and regional tenants. Kris serves on the boards of the Seattle Metro Chamber and Mary’s Place.

Vin Gupta, MD, MPA, MSc

Vin Gupta, MD, MPA, MSc
Affiliate Assistant Professor, Health Metrics Sciences, Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington

A pulmonary/critical care physician, Vin has spent the past 15 years working worldwide to improve public health. Since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, he has been a regular health-policy analyst for NBC News and a frequent contributor to The New York Times and CNN. Vin also serves as principal scientist at Amazon, providing clinical and strategic leadership to the company’s internal and external COVID-19 response work.

Alex Hudson

Alex Hudson
Executive Director, Transportation Choices Coalition

TCC is a policy and advocacy organization that works at the state, regional and local levels to make transportation accessible to all. As its executive director, Alex works to ensure affordable, walkable, bike-friendly, vibrant communities connected by transit.

Past Events

Downtown Recovery: Spotlight on the Mayor’s Revitalization Working Group

March 18, 2021

One year after COVID-19 devastated our local economy, activity is returning as downtown begins to open back up. Still, recovery will be multi-faceted and take many months.

Panelists discussed the city’s Downtown Revitalization Working Group. Launched by the mayor’s office in February, this team is charged with accelerating the vaccine rollout, supporting small and disadvantaged businesses, activating public spaces, completing infrastructure projects, addressing the root causes of homelessness and bringing workers back to downtown safely.

The audience heard from the group’s co-chairs Pamela Banks and DSA president & CEO Jon Scholes, as well as District 7 City Councilmember Andrew Lewis. Welcome remarks were given by Amazon’s vice president of Global Real Estate, John Schoettler.

Watch the Webinar

The Future of Cities

Dec. 10, 2020

Prior to the pandemic, cities across the U.S. were concluding a record decade of growth, and downtown Seattle outperformed nearly every other urban core across North America.

Today, downtowns across the country are quiet, having been disproportionately impacted by the devastating economic effects of the coronavirus. How will cities reemerge? Will preferences for urban areas change following a vaccine? What is the future of the office? And how can cities rebuild better?

Our panel of experts in urban design, commercial real estate and multi-family development explored what’s next for cities and shared insights from recent research.

Watch the Webinar


The State of Local Politics

Nov. 19, 2020

The political environment in Seattle continues to draw national attention. As a city, we face some of the toughest challenges in nearly 100 years. Unfortunately, there isn’t political consensus on how to move our city forward. At this event, we explored what it will take for Seattle leaders and community members to listen to each other and work together, and whether there is room for thoughtful, inclusive and deliberate policymaking. Audience members heard from our panel of experts who research and report on local politics and attitudes of Seattle residents.

Watch the Webinar

A Better Crisis Response

Oct. 15, 2020

Last year, Seattle police responded to over 16,000 calls for people experiencing mental-health or substance-abuse crises. At this event, King County leaders discussed new approaches to crisis intervention.

What are those programs and how can they address the needs of our community? Are there upstream connections to treatment, services and housing that can prevent tragic events?

Panelists also explored initiatives to help shelter chronically homeless individuals, and attendees learned about a new state-funded mental-health pilot program in Los Angeles based on global best practices.

Watch the Webinar

Investing in Behavioral Health for a Safer Seattle

Aug. 6, 2020

After years of shrinking budgets and divestment in our social services sector, COVID-19 is laying bare the vulnerabilities in our criminal justice, behavioral health and homelessness systems. Recently, calls for renewed investment from around the country have captured the attention of policymakers and are shaping how cities are investing in public health and community safety. As our council deliberates calls to defund the Seattle Police Department, some leaders are proposing new investments that would bolster these aims for a safer and healthier downtown.

At this event, our panel talks about innovations they are championing and the impact they believe this work could have on Seattle’s safety and health outcomes.

Watch the Webinar

Transportation in the Era of COVID-19

July 17, 2020

As downtown begins to open back up and move toward recovery, how will our transportation systems manage the safe and efficient return of workers and visitors?

At this event, we gathered local and regional transit agency leaders for an update on their preparedness to support mobility and access to downtown. What do riders of public transportation need to know about safely riding a bus or train? What’s the outlook for addressing challenges created by the West Seattle Bridge closure? We also shared findings of a recent Commute Seattle survey conducted with company leaders on their return-to-work plans.

Watch the Webinar

Downtown Development in the Recovery

May 22, 2020

Prior to COVID-19, 264 downtown projects were under construction, in design, or awaiting permitting approvals. They would have delivered more than 38,000 housing units, over 16 million square feet of office space, and millions in city revenue. Today, many of these projects hang in the balance.

What is the role of the real estate industry in the economic recovery? What innovations in construction and permitting can allow projects to continue? And how will the economic crisis impact future development and project viability? Our experts explore the answers to these questions and more.

Watch the Webinar

Reopening Our Economy

May 7, 2020

There is strong evidence to suggest that Washington’s early actions to shelter-in-place are having a profound impact on the number of COVID-19 cases in the state. Early planning is underway to relax physical distancing and gradually reopen the economy, leaving many to wonder what “the new normal” will look like.

At our May 7 webinar, attendees learned about what measures will guide public health decisions to reopen businesses, which industries will be the first to return, and how employers are considering new practices that will make it possible for our city and state to get back to business.

Watch the Webinar

The Private and Nonprofit Response to COVID-19’s Economic Impact

April 23, 2020

The statewide closure of most Washington businesses began in mid-March, 2020. Downtown Seattle — as the region’s jobs, tourism and cultural center — was hit particularly hard.

At this time of great need, many private companies, individuals and community nonprofits stepped up to support small businesses, arts organizations, workers, families and others affected by this global pandemic.

At this Virtual Access event, we welcomed a panel of experts leading some of these relief efforts. How did their strategy come together? What have they learned along the way? And how can others join in the effort to get our community and economy back on its feet?

Watch the Webinar

Note: Video joins event in progress due to recording issue.

Sawant’s Jobs Tax in the Context of COVID‑19

April 16, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has had a swift and severe impact on Seattle’s economy. Many business and nonprofits are fighting to remain viable and some estimates suggest we are already seeing double-digit unemployment. It is against that backdrop that Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant proposed a new tax on jobs that would impact over 800 companies and more than half of Seattle’s workforce.

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COVID-19 Federal Stimulus Package

April 3, 2020

The economic effects of COVID-19 have been widespread in downtown Seattle, impacting every sector. At our DSA Virtual Access event, we hosted a panel of experts who broke down the recently passed $2 trillion federal stimulus package. They discussed what relief measures are in place for small businesses and nonprofits and offer insights on how to best access these resources.

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The Impacts of Coronavirus on Downtown

March 27, 2020

Like cities across the country, downtown is grappling with the impacts of COVID-19. What is the latest public health information available? What are the local, regional and national economic impacts of this rapidly spreading virus? What measures are being taken at the federal, state and local level to provide relief? Our panel offered the latest information and answered audience questions.

Watch the Webinar

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