The plywood is coming down, restaurants that survived are adding hours and vehicle traffic in Seattle is growing from theghost-town levels of one year ago. But as downtown, Belltown, and South Lake Union ready for the return of tens of thousands of employees to its skyscrapers, coffee shops, and sidewalks, a handful of questions remain unanswered.
The answer depends on who is asked.
In late March Amazon released a statement affirming that it’s an office-based company and它的通勤和隔间文化将恢复this fall — a crucial boost for the vibrancy of downtown Seattle businesses已经crushed amid the pandemic. 西雅图市中心协会的数据显示，去年实体零售业的就业岗位下降了65%。
“在过去的五到十年里，我所观察到的是西雅图的一种态度，我认为这种态度是反商业的，有点反工作的，而且在过去的几年里，这种态度确实加快了速度。”Ad Lightning co-founder Scott Moore said on a recent GeekWire podcast. “And it’s unfortunate.”
Jodi Ellias，公司营销副总裁Payscale, said the compensation research company gave up its Seattle office lease during the pandemic but will return to downtown with a smaller footprint and a plan to mirror Zillow’s approach.
On the other end of the scale isTextio. The writing enhancement service company will base none of its 90 employees in downtown Seattle. Co-founder and CEOKieran Snyder— who will speak Wednesday at a关于西雅图无家可归危机的Gee狗万平台kWire事件— said Textio will not be returning full-time staff to downtown Seattle, or downtown anywhere.
她说：“头条新闻是，上一轮经济繁荣的所有沿海城市都将崩溃，因为每个人都在迁移到其他地方。”在上周的一个在线会议上. “We always talked about it as the three Bs — everyone is moving to Boise, Bend, and Boseman.”
But the reality was pretty different. While some people did move to those places, actual moving data swamps the anecdotes.
Stewart said Seattle had more people move to the city in 2020 than in 2019. Thenumbers indicate that Seattle likely benefited from out-migration from New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. And because the region retained its wealth of talent in cloud computing, AI, and gaming, she said, it will continue to attract tech companies. “The more (talent) we have the more we get,” she said.
Addressing crime and homelessness
Representatives from the companies surveyed all expressed concerns about the homeless problem in downtown and what the city and businesses can do to improve it. “We are very concerned and saddened by the growing homelessness crisis in Seattle,” said Mary Miller, a senior vice president at Seattle-based Amperity.
With the pandemic’s decline on the horizon anda commercial real estate recovery，这座城市留下了一个棘手的问题：它将如何清理市中心，帮助重新启动这座城市的主要税源之一，同时找到一个可以接受的解决方案，让无家可归的居民得到他们需要的帮助？
The overall numbers defy the entrenched belief about lawlessness in the city’s center.Crime in downtown actually declined in 2020from 2019, according to the Seattle Police Department Crime Dashboard (though it remains unclear if the statistical drop simply was because fewer people were there to report illegal activity).
The initiative is a citywide ballot measure to force the city to fund a battery of services and shelters for thousands of the town’s unsheltered residents. It also would require the city to keep “parks, playgrounds, sports fields, public spaces and sidewalks and streets clear of encampments” once the mandated housing, drug, and mental health services are in place.
Currently, the initiative is in the signature-gathering phase. It must get 33,000 valid signatures in the next three weeks to qualify for the ballot. And while the measure backed by the downtown association is meant to mandate city policy regarding its homeless population, it’s also meant to let businesses and residents know that the city will be forced to do something to move the needle —even if that something is controversial.
Some companies remain committed to downtown Seattle and are excited to return and be part of the revitalization process.
UX公司Blink的首席执行官凯伦·克拉克·科尔（Karen Clark Cole）说，在流感大流行关闭之前，她在市区有80名员工。在疫情最严重的时候，这一数字下降到4名雇员。但它计划让他们全部归来，尽管速度很慢。她估计，到9月份，公司可能会有10%的员工重返办公室。
Moreover, she said, the company plans to expand its downtown workforce. “We grew during 2021 (only about 4%) and will continue to grow,” she said, adding that Blink will require all of its in-office employees to be vaccinated. “There will be more people assigned to the downtown Seattle office, but most people will be part-time so not everyone will be there at once.”
F5级, the networking and application security company, plans to take a similar approach to Blink. The company had more than 1,400 employees in itsFifth Avenue towerprior to the pandemic. Currently, fewer than 5% of those workers are in the building. But that will start to change, said spokesman Rob Gruening.
“As we surveyed our employees throughout the pandemic to get an idea of how they want to work in the future, a significant majority indicated a desire to have flexible schedules — the ability to come into the office for interaction and collaboration and work remotely when they need to focus,” he said.
“Some people will still come into the office full time and some will work remotely full time, but a much larger percentage will do a hybrid of both,” he said, adding that F5 will not require its workforce to be vaccinated. The hybrid work model means the company has sublet six floors of its building but has zero intentions of leaving downtown Seattle, he said.
安培数’s Miller said managers there are planning a 3-2 staffing model and mandatory vaccinations for its 115 Seattle-based workers. The customer data platform company will keep the same downtown footprint, she said.
安培数at no point, she noted, considered moving away and managers still see significant benefits in Seattle’s business district. “Accessibility and centralized location, amenities, and of course the energy,” said Miller.