Now three years after the onset of the global pandemic, the overall outlook for downtown is improving. Today, our urban core is home to a record 104,000-plus residents, and visitor foot traffic is steadily climbing. In the summer of 2022, nearly 3 million visitors came downtown, and hotel-room demand reached nearly 85% of 2019 levels. We have seen a slow but steady rise in the return of workers to offices in downtown Seattle, and are heartened by announcements from major employers making plans to return. Nearly 50 restaurants and 30 new retail locations have opened in the past year, and we’re celebrating major projects that will have generational impacts, including the opening of the new Summit addition to the Seattle Convention Center.
We’ve also seen progress on persistent challenges, including chronic homelessness and public safety.
The number of tent encampments downtown has gone from a peak of 146 in January 2021 to an average of 10 per month in the latter half of 2022, as the King County Regional Homelessness Authority and the city have brought a number of our unhoused neighbors inside. Incidents of violent crime downtown have also declined since a high point during the pandemic.
While the metrics we track on the overall health of downtown are moving in the right direction, we have work to do on several major fronts, including a renewed vision for available office and ground-floor retail. We must also take on the fentanyl crisis on the streets of downtown with a greater sense of urgency and intention. It is without question the public health and economic crisis of our time.
At DSA, we believe that it’s going to take all of us working together — businesses, nonprofits, residents and the public sector — to ensure our downtown is positioned to compete with other urban centers in the future. We also believe that a thriving and vibrant downtown is critical to the health of our city and the entire region. Downtowns bring people together to foster and nurture innovation, community and culture.
DSA remains committed to a downtown for all – where everyone feels they belong and has an opportunity to participate and share in the prosperity. The downtowns that rebuild in this way will be more dynamic, desirable, inclusive and resilient.
Whether you’re a longtime DSA member, potential investor or exploring the benefits of DSA membership, we invite you to join us as we reimagine downtown Seattle together.
President & CEO
Downtown Seattle Association