“I’ve never lived in a city that’s collapsing around me,” wrote Jon Talton, business columnist for The Seattle Times, in an ominous opening sentence of his latest column on the continuing problems facing downtown Seattle.
Spurred by the sudden closure of the Nike store in early January, Amazon’s decision to pull its workers out of the Port 99 office tower, and the announcement later in the month that the Regal Meridian 16 Theater is closing, Talton takes a hard look at the current situation in downtown. Among the startling statistics he shared, the retail vacancy rate downtown is 13.5%, up from less than 2% in 2019 (in the same time period, Bellevue’s retail vacancy rate dropped from 5% in 2019 to 1.5%).
While the entire Talton column is well worth reading, here’s a brutally honest section:
Excuses aside, today’s urban dystopia was unimaginable when I arrived here 15 years ago.
Whether from a consumer or business standpoint, we may be witnessing the demise of tolerance for bad urban experiences on the other side of this pandemic.
The conceit that places like Seattle could get away with street crime and urban disorder, chalking it up to a big city with big-city problems — and people would still come and invest — is being put to the test.
No doubt, Seattle is being severely tested as we emerge from the pandemic.