Business & Retail Development
Our goal is to actively engage businesses in supporting economic growth in Pioneer Square. There are currently over 1,000 businesses in the historic district, with our office economy showing revenue of over $1.4B in 2012. We work to help new and existing businesses understand the vision of the neighborhood, navigate administrative mazes, connect them to resources and other businesses, and raise their profile in the neighborhood. We are implementing a retail recruitment strategy, actively recruiting new businesses to achieve a vibrant mix of storefront uses.
Marketing & Promotion
Over the past three years the Alliance has worked tirelessly to change the story of Pioneer Square and its portrayal in the media. We are now starting to see a positive change in perception, with many of our new restaurants being featured in publications including the Puget Sound Business Journal, Seattle Met, Seattle Magazine, the New York Times, Bon Appetit, and GQ.
Our summer bus ads showed off the history and burgeoning foodie scene in the neighborhood. We advertised Pioneer Square in magazines to local tourists and provided printed walking maps to visitors. Our robust social media and online marketing campaign continues to promote Pioneer Square to connected Seattleites. For the First Thursday art walk, we implemented a free parking program to patrons of the art galleries and other participating venues. We have also partnered with the Washington Department of Transportation and the central waterfront to launch DowntownSeattleParking.com, an online parking resource for the neighborhood.
Built Environment and Pedestrian Experience
Many of our parks are perceived as unwelcoming or even dangerous. This year we’ve begun working with designers to identify ways the park-scape can encourage women and children to feel safe while enjoying them. Initial analysis suggests a play area, updated lighting, flowers, and moveable tables and chairs will help.
We’re partnering with the International Sustainable Institute, Seattle Public Utilities, City Light and the Department of Transportation to re-brick two potholed, central alleys and repair underground utilities. This collaboration will help ensure the alleys are pedestrian friendly and the neighborhood has access to the internet, electricity, water and sewage.
We’re leveraging the forthcoming streetcar on Jackson Street to fix many of the sloping sidewalks. We’ve also received funding from the City to design 13 new ADA ramps to improve accessibility for wheelchairs, baby strollers, and suitcases, and hoping to secure funding to construct them in the near future. Together these improvements will make our sidewalks safer and more accessible for people of all walks of life.
Clean & Safe
Even while making significant progress, street civility continues to be a challenge throughout downtown. The Alliance has been a key stakeholder working on the Center City Roundtable to improve issues of street civility and safety. This work has resulted in an increased police presence in the neighborhood as well as expansion of the LEAD (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion) program. 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 pedestrian 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. In 2013 we were successful in expanding the existing BIA, ensuring long-term stability for the organization.
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, obtain neighborhood input and leverage existing assets to accomplish its work. This work will continue throughout 2014 as we begin a new strategic planning process. We will launch Pioneer Square 2020 in late spring – updating the current plan so we can continue the energy, unparalleled participation and positive view of our future.
The recruitment strategy developed in 2012 with the help of community stakeholders suggested guidelines for a mix of restaurants, retail, and services. It also recommended leading the recruitment effort with food. 26 new storefront businesses opened in Pioneer Square in 2013, 15 of them restaurants. Several are destination restaurants opened by award-winning chefs. More are scheduled to open in this summer.
New development and residents are further bolstering economic efforts in the neighborhood. The first phase of Stadium Place, NOLO, added 164 new market-rate residential units to the neighborhood. Residents will begin moving into The Wave in June 2014, an additional 330 units. More market-rate residential projects are in the works. Groundbreaking for the 22-story Embassy Suites Hotel, east of Stadium Place, is expected later this year.
We are not finished. The world of retail has changed and we are continuing our search for relevant, creative retail businesses to complement the anchors who have been here for decades, as well as the newest merchants. Street civility and construction will continue to be a challenge and we are working hard to mitigate their impact.