Seattle mayor asks public to reimagine downtown residential use

Apr 5, 2023, 2:56 PM

landlords rent downtown...

Apartment complexes in downtown Seattle (Nicola via Flickr Creative Commons)

(Nicola via Flickr Creative Commons)

With declining foot traffic in downtown Seattle since the COVID-19 pandemic, the Seattle Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD) is sponsoring a competition to get ideas from the public on how to redesign the district for more residential use.

Teams of building owners, architects, and designers are invited to submit proposals for increasing residency, which will help to bring people back to downtown Seattle and bring more foot traffic to businesses.

Mayor Harrell: Downtown has made ‘incredible progress,’ still further to go

A big part of revitalizing downtown is increasing pedestrian traffic in the area, especially from people that were in the area daily for work before the pandemic, many of whom work remotely. Despite directives from major employers, like Google and Amazon, for workers to return to the office, the monthly worker foot traffic is currently only 47% of what it was before the pandemic, according to the Downtown Seattle Association.

Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, the DSA estimates approximately 500 street-level businesses closed against roughly 300 new businesses opening in downtown Seattle.

One of Harrell’s downtown goals is to reimagine the area as a place for professionals to live instead of just a place to commute to work. Already about 4,000 more apartment units occupy downtown than before the pandemic, with record levels of inventory and number of occupied units.

“Our long-term plans center downtown as a laboratory for the future. The possibilities are endless,” said Mayor Harrell in his ‘Call for Ideas’ portion of his State of the City speech in February.

The ‘Call for Ideas’ meeting will continue pushing the conversion of Seattle downtown commercial office spaces to residential use forward, with buildings submitting plans for renovation into residential units. The best projects will be rewarded with cash prizes. OPCD will offer recognition to the top three scoring submissions with honorariums in the following amounts. The highest-scoring submittal will receive $10,000, and the two second-place entries will receive $7,500. All projects will also receive a smaller honorarium based on the number of submissions and the plan’s budget.

Commission preparing for fallout if new WA airport location isn’t found

“We seek visions for downtown that celebrate the intersection between residential, business, and civic activities,” said Rico Quirindongo, Acting Director of OPCD. “We will foster ideas that expand the concept of downtown as a vibrant residential neighborhood, in addition to its history as a place of commerce, entertainment, and tourism. Together we can foster a bright future for downtown residents and a neighborhood welcoming to all.”

Local News

Echo Glen juvenile...

Kate Stone

Echo Glen juvenile escapees to remain in custody in Seattle

All seven juvenile escapees from Echo Glen Children's Center will remain in custody in Seattle, following a judge's ruling.

1 day ago

seattle housing levy...

Frank Sumrall

$970M Seattle Housing Levy moves forward, awaits vote

Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda -- alongside a series of affordable housing developers -- announced the renewal of the Seattle Housing Levy.

1 day ago


Frank Sumrall

Capitol Hill sandwich spot HoneyHole embroiled in controversy

HoneyHole has become the subject of controversy among its employees who have been distraught and unhappy with new leadership.

1 day ago

Federal Way light rail...

Micki Gamez

Federal Way Link light rail extension delayed until 2026

Federal Way can't catch a break from Sound Transit. Link light rail service will be delayed another year, until 2026.

1 day ago


Bill Kaczaraba

SB I-405 in Renton reopen after rollover collision causes delays

All lanes of southbound I-405 at SR 900 in Renton were blocked Wednesday afternoon after a serious two-car rollover collision.

1 day ago

auburn apartment shot...

L.B. Gilbert

Man shot at Auburn apartment, police say multiple people involved

A man was left in critical condition after being shot at an Auburn apartment building Tuesday night, according to police.

1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Internet Washington...

Major Internet Upgrade and Expansion Planned This Year in Washington State

Comcast is investing $280 million this year to offer multi-gigabit Internet speeds to more than four million locations.

Compassion International...

Brock Huard and Friends Rally Around The Fight for First Campaign

Professional athletes are teaming up to prevent infant mortality and empower women at risk in communities facing severe poverty.

Emergency Preparedness...

Prepare for the next disaster at the Emergency Preparedness Conference

Being prepared before the next emergency arrives is key to preserving businesses and organizations of many kinds.

SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...

Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Seattle mayor asks public to reimagine downtown residential use