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City of Seattle

February 28, 1:50 PM click here to comment > 12

Announcing an $1.1 million investment in neighborhood business districts

Today the mayor joined neighborhood business district leaders and local business owners at Big Time Brewery & Alehouse in Seattle’s University District to announce a $1.1 million investment in 19 neighborhood business districts as part of the Seattle Jobs Plan.

“Our neighborhood business districts are a critical economic asset. Their diversity and strength is a part of what makes our city special,” said Mayor McGinn. “The dollars that the city invests support projects that make an immediate impact in our neighborhoods, and they also serve as catalysts that bring neighborhood business district leaders together to organize and create a shared vision for long-term revitalization strategies, which will help our city’s overall economic recovery.”

Small businesses employ 72 percent of Seattle’s workforce and contribute 35 percent of the city’s business tax revenues, totaling $55.4 million. Our local neighborhood business districts serve as the location and incubators for many of the city’s small businesses. The Seattle Jobs Plan specifically targets investment in Seattle’s neighborhood business districts.

“As a business owner, I know that investments in our business district help us do more to improve our business environment and support our local businesses,” said Don Schulze, board chair of the University District Chamber of Commerce and owner of Shultzy’s. “I’m excited about this investment in our University District business to help us, the business and property owners, get organized around a shared vision for the future of our neighborhood.”

The Office of Economic Development (OED)’s Only in Seattle Initiative supports investments in neighborhood business districts, and focuses on the following strategies to create healthy business districts:

  • Business and retail development (supporting businesses, enhancing business mix);
  • Marketing and promotion (events, social media, district advertising);
  • Clean and safe (graffiti removal, dumpster free alleys, lighting);
  • Streetscape and appearance (catalytic development projects, façade, public art); and
  • Business organization development to sustain the effort, including participation of an existing Business Improvement Area (BIA) or commitment to form one.

The local business communities in these nine neighborhoods have developed comprehensive, multi-year strategies, in which the city is investing a total of $844,000 in 2012.

  • Capitol Hill / 12th Avenue                     $128,000
  • Central Area Main Streets                   $  72,000
  • Chinatown / International District        $185,000
  • Columbia City                                      $  66,500
  • MLK (Rainier Valley)                           $  83,000
  • Pioneer Square                                   $120,000
  • Rainier Beach                                     $  55,000
  • University District                                $  70,000
  • White Center                                       $  64,500

In addition, the city is investing $142,500 to support focused investments in additional neighborhoods, as well as the Only in Seattle marketing campaign and business organization development.

  • Focused investments will be made in these neighborhoods: Beacon Hill, Belltown, Columbia City, Georgetown, Madison Valley, Rainier Beach, SODO, South Park, and White Center.
  • The city will expand the Only in Seattle marketing campaign, which highlights the hidden gems of shopping and dining in Seattle’s neighborhoods ( The following neighborhoods will join the Only in Seattle marketing effort: Fremont, Pioneer Square and Wallingford.
  • The city also will invest to build strong business-focused organizational capacity to sustain the efforts of neighborhood business districts. Support for Business Improvement Area (BIA) formation will occur in the following neighborhoods: Ballard, Belltown, Capitol Hill / 12th Avenue, Madison Valley, Pioneer Square, SODO, and West Seattle.

“The city is focused on helping business and property owners to strengthen local business climate and grow jobs,” said Steve Johnson, director of the Office of Economic Development. “Through the Only in Seattle Initiative we have created an investment framework and partnerships to execute strategies to support healthy business districts.”

In addition this year, the city is investing $100,000 in three neighborhoods for façade improvements: Columbia City, Central Area Main Streets, and Chinatown/International District.  This investment was matched with $142,764 in private dollars.  These improvements directly impact the continued revitalization of the neighborhood business districts and support ongoing business attraction and clean and safe strategies.

“The City’s investment in the Viet-Wah façade with a new awning and improved lighting will help our customers feel welcome and safe while they are shopping,” said Duc Tran, Chairman, Viet-Wah Group in Little Saigon. “Helping our business districts look and feel clean and professional help attract a mix of businesses and companies, increase our customer base and in turn, expand our bottom line.”

OED will fund and manage this program in partnership with Impact Capital, a Seattle-based community development financial institution serving underserved communities throughout Washington.

OED also partnered with the Seattle Department of Transportation this year to better understand the purpose and patterns of travel by visitors in various neighborhood business districts by conducting an intercept survey of visitors in six neighborhood business districts.

“From this survey we were able to gauge important patterns of customers in the district, including how long they were staying, and what other services they were looking for,” said Shelley Morrison, chairman of the marketing committee of the Columbia City Business Association. “We will use this data to improve our marketing and business attraction efforts. It’s the kind of research we couldn’t afford to do on our own, but is greatly beneficial, especially when we can compare ourselves to other neighborhoods.”

Photo by: Aaron Fishbone

Posted by: April Thomas


Comment from Kevin Grossman
Time February 29, 2012 at 7:32 am

I am disappointed that Lake City was once again left out. When I look over the list of neighborhoods to be funded, I see the “usual suspects” who are usually targeted for investment by the city. I would like to see the city give opportunity for growth to other places as well.

Comment from Marilyn
Time February 29, 2012 at 1:51 pm

Why isn’t there a dime in these plans for the Lake City neighborhood? Why is Lake City neglected year after year. We are now paying for the redirected traffic due to the 520 tolling. We are an urban center that deals with social services for high needs populations. And we get little to any of the financial benefits from the city. I’m disappointed Mayor McGinn. Shame!

Comment from Ian King
Time February 29, 2012 at 6:37 pm

Yet more money for marketing? How about paying for adequate and responsible law enforcement that doesn’t beat up or gun down innocent citizens? SDOT studies? How about studying the impact of your various schemes on people who *work* in these neighborhoods day by day? How about rethinking the greedy street parking plan that’s destroying ID (and likely other) restaurants? Did I mention marketing, feeding the machine that adds no value? Ooh, shiny….

Lake City seems like a lost cause, a marketing campaign run amok that added no value and failed to address the fundamental problems of that area (I hesitate to call it a neighborhood – one of its defining challenges that city ‘leaders’ fail to grasp). As my daughter would put it, Seattle’s marketing plan there has been an ‘epic failure.’

Is this intended to distract us from the dishonesty of the Mayor’s Office in its hidden dealings regarding building yet another upholstered sports palace in SoDo? I work in SoDo: our fair city and county have messed up things more than enough, as I fight daily just to get to work. Public transportation isn’t an answer when it takes three poorly-connected buses and nearly two hours to travel nine miles.

By the way, I happened to be at Big Time Brewing for lunch just after this news conference. The Mayor’s staff did a half-baked job of cleaning up after themselves – not surprising, given the mess they’re making of this city.

“Seattle Jobs Plan” – how can we put more money in the pockets of the people who already have jobs and have consistently failed to produce anything meaningful?

When do we get to vote for a new mayor?

Comment from Martina
Time February 29, 2012 at 7:35 pm

Let me add my voice to those bemoaning the lack of investment in Lake City. We have a neat downtown area, clearly slated for growth. A rare tree-lined main street, and a once in a lifetime opportunity for reinvestment as the Pierre auto empire plans to move out. It sometimes seems like the City of Seattle targets our neighborhood only for negatives: topless bars, gun shops, medical marijuana, and homeless shelters. Please, give us our fair share of positive investment. It’s time!

Comment from Susan
Time February 29, 2012 at 7:57 pm

Why is there nothing for the Northeast of Seattle? I don’t see Lake City, Wedgwood or Pinehurst anywhere on this list. You dump the homeless here and other low income groups. How about you help the businesses out that employ some of these people? Why do we only get strip clubs and car dealerships? Thanks for nothing.

Comment from Phelia Lorenzen
Time February 29, 2012 at 9:30 pm

I would like to read specifics about these improvements. Why 12th Ave on Capitol Hill? Broadway is a mess. How will signs and “events” in any of these areas actually add businesses and jobs? Much too vague and too general for me to have much confidence in these plans.

Comment from Barbara
Time March 1, 2012 at 1:22 pm

When I look at the list, I wonder if perhaps the mayor forgot that Seattle annexed the property north of 85th St. in 1954. Maybe Lake City was ignored because we don’t generate parking meter revenue to the city. 🙂

Comment from Jason
Time March 5, 2012 at 11:23 am

I add another voice against Lake City’s neglect. A 10 year resident of the neighborhood, I have heard a lot of talk about it being an urban center, yet have seen nothing put towards making that a meaningful designation. I have seen Lake City Way repaved, which is nice for the 1000s of folks that travel daily through Lake City everyday, but how about giving those people a reason to actually stop? We are a diverse community with a unique and interesting history. We don’t need to be Belltown or Ballard– Lake City has its own flavor– but we need a chance to be something more than a road to somewhere else. City of Seattle, take some pride in your gateway community.

Comment from Lena
Time March 6, 2012 at 9:41 am

Yes, once again, Lake City is neglected. Why? Because we are the busy working middle class. Because we have a large refugee/immigrant population. Because other neighborhood don’t need the reinvestment that we do, but their residents have much louder voices down at city hall. Mayor McGinn, why are you putting our taxpayer money once again in the same communities while ignoring Lake City? I know you’ve been here and seen the potential. Please do the right thing and put the city’s investment where it is most deserved and needed!

Comment from Jamie
Time March 6, 2012 at 2:09 pm

It is my opinion that the issues with Lake City are shared between the City, the neighborhood, the Chamber and the Business District. We all need to take responsiblity and step up. There is an application process for these specific funds and it is unclear whether the businesses or the Chamber applied for them in Lake City. We need to be constructive about ways to better Lake City and get involved in improving it in a cooperative process with the City, businesses, Chamber and residents. There have been improvements in the last year and we need to continue working towards improvements in our neighborhood.

Comment from Whitney
Time March 6, 2012 at 7:47 pm

My husband and I live in Lake City. Mayor—this is very disappointing news. I echo the sentiment of my neighbors.

Comment from Brian Arkills
Time March 12, 2012 at 9:45 pm

I encourage folks living in the Lake City area to get connected with your neighbors via