June 15, 1:50 PM click here to comment > 7
Reporting to the community on Pioneer Square revitalization
Pioneer Square is a wonderful asset, but there’s no doubt it’s had some hard times. Improving our neighborhoods and helping our businesses will bring economic recovery and shared prosperity. So we’ve rolled up our sleeves and worked hard with the community to revitalize the neighborhood.
Thanks to the hard work of neighbors, businesses, and the City of Seattle, Pioneer Square is coming back strong, though there’s still work to do. So I joined Pioneer Square businesses and community leaders, including former mayor Charles Royer, to update the community on what we’ve done so far, and what is coming soon.
In June 2010 we released Pioneer Square 2015, A Strategy for Seattle’s First Neighborhood. This report laid out action items that would revitalize Pioneer Square as a destination for new jobs, residents, and nightlife. From our fiber broadband project to the South Downtown rezone to restoring King Street Station, we are committed to making Pioneer Square the vibrant urban place it deserves to be.
One of the biggest concerns of businesses in Pioneer Square is the availability and reliability of Internet access. Four weeks ago I joined former mayor Charles Royer to announce the City was laying conduit under First Avenue to connect nearby businesses to fiber-optic broadband internet. Seattle City Light had already opened the street as part of a utility relocation project, allowing the City to lay the conduit as part of that existing project.
Today we announced that Comcast has been selected to provide the next generation of Internet service using the City-owned conduit. Service will be available to businesses on First Avenue this fall.
“We can’t wait to begin knocking on doors and connecting businesses to our fiber-rich network. We have long wanted to serve this neighborhood, because of its reputation as a business incubator, but the numbers just never quite penciled out until now,” said Todd Elliott, director of Enterprise Sales for Comcast. “Thanks to the city’s innovative proposal, we have an opportunity to meet the growing bandwidth needs of the area’s Internet start-ups for many years to come, as well as to help the city grow its economy by providing the services these businesses need to remain competitive.”
Onehub CEO Charles Mount
One local company, Onehub, is moving from Bellevue to Seattle and excited about the increased high-speed Internet.
“Onehub is very excited to be moving its headquarters to Pioneer Square,” said Charles Mount, CEO of Onehub. “Pioneer Square has become the place to be for Seattle startups. The neighborhood has great character, accessibility by public transportation, affordable office space and now, thanks to the city, high-speed Internet that is essential to Onehub and other technology startups.”
The City has also taken the following actions to improve the quality of life in Pioneer Square:
• Parking: The extended pay parking into the evening is being delayed until 2012 to allow SDOT to collect additional information. The Pioneer Square commercial core rate boundary will be moved from Yesler Way to Columbia Street. This will lower rates at about 20 pay stations from $4 to $3.50.
• Bringing new residents: The South Downtown rezone legislation was adopted on April 25, 2011 to increase residential density.
• Public safety: Seattle Police Department increased its walking patrols and routinely conducts undercover drug operations at Fortson Square and other locations in Pioneer Square, resulting in the arrest of chronic drug dealers.
• Homelessness: Seattle’s Department for Human Services, Department of Planning and Development and SPD worked with Real Change, the APS and Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness to address chronic homelessness, and have engaged leaders such as the Compass Center to provide creative and sustainable housing solutions.
• Neighborhood enhancement: The Office of Economic Development’s Only in Seattle Initiative has invested $100,000 with the Alliance for Pioneer Square for improvements including replacing historic sidewalk lights, organizing and marketing events such as Art in the Park, Salsa Saturdays, and Seattle Square Market, and coordinating holiday retail promotion to draw shoppers to the neighborhood.
Mayors Royer and McGinn
“The business and community leaders of Pioneer Square have really come together around this shared vision for improving Pioneer Square, and we’re pleased to continue to partner with the Office of Economic Development and the city to make more improvements for our businesses and residents a reality,” said Charles Royer, Co-Chair of the board of the Alliance for Pioneer Square.
This is good progress, but there is still work to be done to complete the revitalization of Pioneer Square. Here’s what we’ve got coming for the rest of 2011 and in 2012:
• Supporting development on the North Lot of Qwest Field through financing and permitting tools.
• Starting construction on the First Hill streetcar, which will serve Pioneer Square along South Jackson Street.
• Designating an individual to coordinate communications with City departments and the community about construction impacts on parking availability.
• Re-examining the feasibility of a public restroom at the Fire Station.
We know there’s still a long way to go. We will keep working with the Pioneer Square community to lay a foundation for change.
Photos by: Jen Nance
Posted by: Mayor Mike McGinn