The Alliance for Pioneer Square Programs
All programs of the Alliance fall under our five strategies: Business & Retail Development, Marketing & Promotion, Built Environment & Pedestrian Experience, Clean & Safe and Organizational & Neighborhood Capacity. This comprehensive approach to neighborhood revitalization provides a roadmap for the organization to follow.
Business & Retail Development
Our goal is to actively engage businesses in supporting economic growth by both supporting existing and emerging economic clusters as well as identifying desirable new businesses; develop marketing and recruitment strategies.
The Alliance has made significant inroads in business outreach and recruitment over the last two years. We completed a retail strategy for the neighborhood, hired a business development/retail recruitment specialist and are off and running. We have landed our first destination chef and phones are ringing off the hook with others interested in moving to Pioneer Square. We continue our work to redefine retail in a changed retail environment and to work aggressively to recruit, welcome and support the highly diverse and creative businesses that love to make Pioneer Square their home. Street civility and construction will continue to be challenges and we are working hard to mitigate their impact.
Marketing & Promotion
Over the past two years the Alliance expended considerable effort to change the story and media image of the neighborhood. Pioneer Square has been re-branded as an artsy, fun place to be. We are advertising, participating in subsidized parking to entice visitors, and aggressively pursuing retail recruitment based upon a retail strategy for the neighborhood.
Building upon our successful re-branding; we launched new web sites, implemented a robust social media and on-line marketing campaign, and continue to promote Pioneer Square. We successfully garnered significant resources through mitigation to ensure robust advertising and subsidized parking over the next few years. Continuing challenges include the perception of the neighborhood as dark, dangerous and overrun with street people. The media buzz from destination chefs and new businesses supports our efforts to overcome our negative reputation in the press and on the web.
Built Environment and Pedestrian Experience
A combination of strategies is needed to improve the pedestrian experience. Our work revolves around 1) creating a network of alleys for art, events, and improved pedestrian experience, 2) advocating for a walkable neighborhood environment, 3) implementing Trail to Treasure; a historical interpretive trail and 4) improving dilapidated and underused buildings and spaces.
We made significant progress in this over the last year. The Alley Network was granted an award through the Department of Neighborhoods to design a workable, historically respectful method for repaving our alleys. The Alliance was also awarded city infrastructure grants for tree trimming, the planting of the medias, and repainting of our crosswalks.
Our Trail to Treasure implementation continues; a second year of walking tours, a self-guided walking map available at numerous locations throughout the neighborhood and the first installment of physical waysides are scheduled for installation this spring. Challenges continue due to the immediate and long term impacts of construction.
Clean & Safe
Even while making significant progress, street civility continues to be a challenge across downtown. The Alliance has been a key stakeholder working on the Mayor’s Center City Initiative to improve issues of street civility and safety. We are also looking to increase outdoor activities within the district and to activate neighborhood space through the use of art.
In addition to an increase in activities, the Alliance works with the Metropolitan Improvement District to ensure effective clean and safe services. Other areas of focus for the built environment include business façade improvement and lighting improvements throughout the neighborhood. While we are pleased with the progress we have made on this goal, we know we have significant work to do.
We continue to build both organizational and neighborhood capacity; encouraging more people to step up to participate, assuming responsibility for work, committees, and projects. Our progress in bringing the neighborhood together is significant.
Building upon our on-going success with neighborhood engagement, we continue to build relationships and increase our communication with stakeholders. During this last year we also continued our work with human service providers, sports teams, clubs, tech companies, and our partners in the preservation and arts communities. We reached out to long-tenured art galleries, residents, and other stakeholders to include their perspectives and voices. We continued our close work with the new Pioneer Square Residents Council and continued to build capacity within the Pioneer Square BIA and upper level businesses. The Alliance works to engage volunteers; to obtain neighborhood input and to leverage existing assets to accomplish its work.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
One of our most recent successes is the number of new businesses joining the neighborhood. There has been a flurry of activity as new restaurants and retailers open their doors. Things are happening because of the work and heart of so many. The enthusiasm and support of the people who live, work, and create in Pioneer Square makes all the difference. A few of the new additions include:
- Bar Sajor (open!)
- Gaba Sushi (open!)
- Il Corvo (open!)
- Tinello (March 2013)
- The Lodge (open March 2013)
- E. Smith Mercantile (open April 2013)
- Cherry Street Coffee on First Ave S (open May 1, 2013)
- Café Nordo (dinner theater production May-June 2013)
- Embassy Suites (early 2014)
There are now more than 1000 businesses within the historic district with our office economy showing vacancy rates below 5% and revenue of $1.7B in 2011, demonstrating continued growth year after year. There is a renaissance going on in Pioneer Square as the neighborhood comes together with energy, unparalleled participation, and a positive view of its own future.