The Jason Rantz Show on KIRO Radio
Jason Rantz
Pioneer Square-980
KIRO Radio's Jason Rantz says Weyerhaeuser and other businesses moves to Pioneer Square will mean rising rents and gentrification. (MyNorthwest.com/file)

Gentrification will come with new business in Pioneer Square

Taken from The Jason Rantz Show.

Weyerhaeuser says it's relocating its headquarters to Seattle from its longtime home in the south Seattle suburb of Federal Way.

President and CEO Doyle Simons said Tuesday that the existing 430-acre campus is costly and too large for company needs. He adds that the move will give the company "access to a larger talent pool" to meet future recruiting needs.

That makes sense. If you're trying to convince a candidate who lives in Los Angeles, Chicago, or New York, it's an easier pitch being able to say that you operate in Seattle instead of Federal Way.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray held a press conference over this move on Tuesday. He was very excited.

"Today, we gather in Pioneer Square to celebrate the relocation of the Weyerhaeuser Corporation headquarters to Occidental Park, right here in Pioneer Square.

"This is a game changer Pioneer Square. Weyerhaeuser's decision to conduct its future business, it's recruitment in Seattle is a clear demonstration of why Seattle is a good place for business. Businesses want what Seattle has to offer. Businesses want to be where there are creative people, where there are vibrant streets, where there are active parks, where there are walkable, bicycle, transit-orientated neighborhoods.

"That's Seattle, and that is Pioneer Square. Weyerhaeuser's move and the nearly 900 jobs that come with it will have a positive impact on this neighborhood. It will attract even more businesses. It'll create an even more vibrant neighborhood and it will create an even more vibrant Seattle."

I love Mayor Murray talking here about the active parks. The active parks in Pioneer Square are not the kind of active park you want.

Pioneer Square is not a great place to be. It's OK during the day, when there are a lot of people there. But at night, it's only acceptable to most people after a Seahawks game or a Sounders game when you're in a group that will protect you from being stabbed to death, or offered various drugs, or harassed by people who are living on the street.

The mayor later expanded on how Weyerhaeuser will be a game changer for the neighborhood.

"This is a neighborhood that has been undergoing revitalization. This is a neighborhood that has been attracting new incubator companies, IT companies for a few years now, so it's already changing particularly during the day. You can see it in the employees who walk the streets and shop in the stores and eat in restaurants, so it is changing.

"But with bringing Weyerhaeuser in I think it will be the game changer that attracts yet more businesses to this city and this neighborhood."

Maybe that is so, but let's keep something in mind. This company employs about 800 people. Let's say some of those people who are presumably making a decent amount of money want to live in the city. They may to choose to live as close to work as possible, especially when we're talking about how bad the traffic is going to be trying to get to Pioneer Square.

So they're going to start moving into the area. Maybe they move into Belltown, Pioneer Square or downtown Seattle. That will drive the prices of the apartments up. Why? Because now you've got people who can afford to pay a little more, and you've got landlords who realize they can charge more.

This will lead ironically to some gentrification. Gentrification is the exact same thing the mayor says he's against. The progressives in the Seattle City Council say we need to fight gentrification.

But as you're bringing in all of these new people and you're raising the rent, the people who can afford to live in Pioneer Square right now, they're going to find themselves up against rent they can't actually afford. So they're going to eventually move out.

The fact is, you are touting this as a progressive mayor, which I agree should be touted, but you are touting this at the exact same time you are saying you're against gentrification and you're trying to do something about the raising rents. Well, what are you going to do specifically about the raising rents that are inevitably going to happen in Pioneer Square as Weyerhaeuser and all these companies move in?

You have to address that. That's an important thing to address, especially in this conversation of caring about our communities and wanting to makes sure they are affordable.

Now, I hope Pioneer Square gets better. I hope the crime rate continues to decline. I hope someone takes care of some of the obvious issues there like the homeless and drug use population there. But just remember that prices are going to go up. Just remember that the gentrification you talk about hating is going to likely take place if you really want to transform Pioneer Square.

Taken from The Jason Rantz Show.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

JS

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