Downtown Seattle urgently needs new ideas for rebirth

Feb 9, 2023
Written by WR Communications

By The Seattle Times editorial board

For a lot of people, the news last month that Nike shuttered its retail shop in downtown Seattle was met with passing interest.

For Matt Griffin and many other downtown boosters, the Nike store’s demise signified something deeper. The end of an era. The dusk of a once-glorious renaissance engineered back in the 1990s. A sobering call for city leaders to try something — anything — to pump some life back into Seattle’s sagging core.

Griffin has been a principal and managing partner in the Pine Street Group, a real estate development and management firm.

The Puget Sound Business Journal’s “2022 Executive of the Year,” Griffin was one of a core group of developers instrumental in getting downtown back on its feet after retailer Frederick & Nelson closed its doors in 1992. Formed in 1994, Pine Street Associates remade three downtown Seattle blocks, including renovating Frederick & Nelson into a flagship store and headquarters of Nordstrom; developing Pacific Place mall and a 1,200-car garage; and remaking Nordstrom’s former space into retail, offices, and condos.

From fears of blight emerged movie theaters and the Gameworks arcade and, in 1996, NikeTown, among other attractions.

Griffin was in the thick of it all. And now he’s doing a lot of noodling about what’s next.

“Downtown needs a shot in the arm, no doubt about it,” he said. “We need to think of new uses for downtown to bring people here. I don’t know the answer.”

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