Belltown News


By Sarah Anne Lloyd

The number of downtown Seattle workers who commute by transit is very nearly to half—and fewer people than ever are jumping into their cars alone to go to work, according to new data from Commute Seattle, a private-public partnership that tracks commute trends funded by the Seattle Department of Transportation, King County Metro, Sound Transit, and the Downtown Seattle Association.

Commute Seattle’s data comes from more than 55,000 workers in the “center city”—that’s downtown proper, South Lake Union, the Denny Triangle, Pioneer Square, First Hill, Chinatown International District, Belltown, Uptown, and Capitol Hill. Some results came from worksites participating in Seattle’s Commute Trip Reduction program, while others were administered separately. Commute Seattle, along with EMC Research, then statistically weighted the data to get a clearer picture.

Last year, Commute Seattle’s data saw the biggest drop in single-occupancy vehicle (SOV) commutes it had seen so far. This year, Seattle broke its own record. SOV commuting was even less popular—and the drop was that much more dramatic.

When Commute Seattle first started collecting data in 2010, 35.2 percent of commutes happened alone, in a car. Now, that’s down to 25.4 percent, a nearly 5 percent drop in the last year alone.

That drop comes as a record number of jobs—and new people—come to the Seattle area.

Driving alone decreased even as downtown jobs increased.
 Courtesy of Commute Seattle

And it’s not just that SOV commutes are taking a downtown in commute share. They’ve actually decreased by about 4,500. Meanwhile, Seattle’s transit options—train, bus, ferry—gained 41,500 new riders.

Transit made up about 48 percent of downtown commutes in 2017, compared to 42 percent in 2010. The vast majority of those took place on a bus, which has the largest coverage area to Seattle neighborhoods and the surrounding area, but rail commutes nearly doubled since 2010, jumping from 4.9 to 9 percent of the share.

Those walking onto ferries to get to work has just about held steady since 2010, which tracks—many walking onto the ferry don’t have much of a choice. 66 percent of people commuting from a westerly direction took a ferry, with only 5.6 percent opting to drive alone.

How many commutes gained and lost by each commute type, 2010-2017.
 Courtesy of Commute Seattle

That gap in between is about what you’d expect: ride-sharing, biking, walking, and other methods, like telecommuting. Those all remained largely unchanged from previous, although walking ticked up about 2 percent and ride-sharing slightly increased compared to last year.

The share of bike commutes remains largely unchanged since data collection began, holding steady at around 3 percent. But some supplemental data shows that—surprise—people tend to commute less by bike during the colder months. Surveying a smaller data pool than used for the larger survey, 5.9 percent said they rode a bike to work in the fall, when the survey took place, compared to 13.1 percent in warmer months. Walk commutes could also be affected by the survey timing.

Since 2010, though all commute methods besides driving alone have seen some amount of numerical increase.

How downtown Seattle commuters got to work in 2017.
 Courtesy of Commute Seattle

Commute Seattle attributes the changes to a number of factors.

We are adaptable,” said Commute Seattle executive director Jonathan Hopkins in a statement. “Downtown Seattle commuters are embracing smart mobility options during a period of tremendous growth.”

For example, there’s been a much larger investment in regional transit. After voters approved the Seattle Transportation Benefit District in 2014, Seattle residents living near transit went up from 25 percent in 2015 to 64 percent in 2017. Link Light Rail expanded south to Angle Lake and north to the University of Washington, greatly increasing ridership. Rapidride bus rapid transit corridors reached Seattle in 2012.

Courtesy of Commute Seattle

Many employees working for employers like Amazon—who participate in the city’s commute trip reduction program—now live nearby their workplace. In turn, those employers that participate in the program saw a 5 percent increase in walk commutes since 2010.

So who are the commuters that are still in their cars? People commuted from outside the city at a higher rate than those inside, which isn’t much of a surprise. Overwhelmingly, Bellevue commuters favored driving alone more than anyone else, with a whole 38.3 percent of them commuting to Seattle by SOV. Out of all people commuting from elsewhere on the Eastside—Issaquah, East King County—37.4 made solo drives. (East Link light rail service doesn’t start until 2023.)

That’s not a large percentage of downtown commuters in general, though: only 3 percent of commuters came from Bellevue, and 4 percent from elsewhere in the Eastside. Overwhelmingly, the survey found that commuters to the center city originated somewhere else in Seattle, to the tune of 58 percent.

Out of those commuting from outside the city, northend commuters—Snohomish County, Kirkland—were largely bus-riders, at 49.4 percent. Those coming from South King County and Pierce County had the largest share of train riders, with 25.3 percent.

Of course, ditching an SOV doesn’t mean that people are ditching cars. A recent report by Seattle Times’s Gene Balk found that Seattle’s car population is growing as fast as its human population. But fewer cars are idling in rush hour traffic, which is a start.

Syndicated from Featured photo source: Viewfinder/Shutterstock

Homelessness continues to be a serious issue in Seattle, and the Belltown neighborhood has struggled with unauthorized camps, particularly around the underpass of Highway 99. There have been various coordinated efforts between Seattle Police and government organizations to address the issue, however one method has been deemed ‘hostile architecture’ and ‘anti-homeless’ as well as misusing department infrastructure funds.

Last September, the city’s Department of Transportation installed a series of bike racks under the highway near the northbound approach to the Battery Street Tunnel. The installation was not intended to serve a need for cyclists to safely lock up their bikes, however.

One Belltown neighbor became suspicious of the addition of 18 bike racks in an area where there was no demand for bike parking. Jeff Few lives adjacent to the spot under Highway 99 where the racks were installed; a site that just previous to the addition of the bike racks, was a homeless encampment site.

“The new racks were clearly there to deter street camping,” says Few. “There was no transportation need for that many bike racks under a viaduct that is going to be torn down in a year.”

He submitted a public records request and obtained emails between SDOT and the city’s bike parking manager, which clearly shows that the racks were installed in an attempt to prevent the homeless from returning to the site: “This is part of the homelessness emergency response effort. The area is being cleaned on Monday and ideally, we’d be able to install behind the clean team.”

Not only was the action clearly anti-homeless, it was likely a misuse of funds – according to King 5 News, the installation cost several thousand dollars (nearly $7,000 according to a Komo News report). Council member Teresa Mosqueda and Chairman of the Transportation Committee Mike O’Brien have been communicating with SDOT’s Interim Director to relocate the bike racks.

Seattle’s Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office issued a statement in response: “Mayor Durkan has made it clear that bike racks should be deployed to support and encourage biking. Last month, SDOT notified members of the City Council stating that the Durkan administration’s policy was to not use bike racks as impediments. SDOT plans to remove the bike racks after a location is identified to ensure the greatest use to bicyclists in Seattle.”

“While we’ve gotten resolve on the bike racks under the Alaskan Way Viaduct, we need to make sure if there is a fund being allocated for hostile architecture, it is redirected to housing options for those that are unsheltered,” Council member Teresa Mosqueda said.

By Sarah Anne Lloyd

Local hotel chain Silver Cloud is adding an 11th location in Belltown, the Puget Sound Business Journalreports.

The new hotel is going up at the current location of a Jiffy Lube, a one-story building that’s mostly garage space on the back half of the lot. That parcel is wedged between a brick apartment building and a CVS Pharmacy—formerly Ralph’s—both of which build right up to the sidewalk. The Jiffy Lube is positioned farther back on the block, behind a parking lot.

Wedging in a hotel is going to be “tough,” Silver Cloud CEO Jim Korbein told PSBJ—the building “is going to be tall and skinny, that’s for sure,” he said.

The apparently willowy hotel will be designed by local firm Third Place Design Cooperative, according to PSBJ.

Property records show that Silver Cloud purchased the property from the Musicians Club of Seattle in June 2016 for $4.85 million.

The Jiffy Lube site where the Silver Cloud Hotel will be built.
 Via King County Department of Assessments

Silver Cloud currently operates 10 hotels in the Pacific Northwest, including four in the Seattle city limits: one on Broadway by Seattle University, one by the stadiums, one in the University District, and another nearby in South Lake Union.

There are currently 13,265 hotel rooms available in downtown seattle and 36,739 available in King County, according to Visit Seattle. Multiple downtown projects are trying to add to that number, including the 1,264-room Hyatt Regency, which will be the biggest hotel in Seattle when it’s done.

Other upcoming projects include a Palihotel and another hotel, sans operatoropening by Pike Place Market, plus a Marriott Moxy hotel in South Lake Union.

In a 2016 report, the Downtown Seattle Association estimated that the area would have another 3,000 hotel rooms by the end of 2018.

Syndicated from, Featured photo source Sam Strickler/Shutterstock.

By Jake Uitti

Seattle’s Caela Bailey is attracted to the colorful, the unique and the flamboyant. And, as a lifelong resident of the Emerald City, she has seen many manifestations of what she loves go extinct. Whether a favorite bar demolished or an artist friend forced out of the city, Bailey laments these losses. And, as an artist, she attempts to subvert the pain from those disappearances with bouquets of eye-popping performance. Her latest, a beautiful video for her song, “Belltown Crawl,” features a swath of local creators—from Chocolate Drizzle producer Keon Volt, to superstar burlesque producer/performer and all around advocate, Briq House, to rock ‘n’ roll singer Eva Walker. The production is a love letter to Seattle’s creative explosions.

We caught up with Bailey to talk about the shoot, her relationship to the city, and one of the sexiest moments in music video history.

 Do you live in Belltown?
I do not. And I don’t know if I could because it’s so much, like, extraness. But that’s why I think it’s so great. Belltown is a place where I love to go to when I want to be a little wild and weird. It’s one of the last remaining odd neighborhoods in Seattle where I feel weirdos congregate. It’s got a jazz club, a little theater, all these restaurants and art bars. You have all these things that allow for, really, not rich people to go hang out. Seattle is becoming a place that caters to people with money and that doesn’t always foster an atmosphere for artists. Belltown is one of those places hanging on for dear life.

Why did you want to record this song and produce this specific video?
My dad actually wrote this song 30 years ago. It’s his song. But with his help and some incredible musicians, I took it and made it my own. The lyrics were so relevant to him when he wrote it and it’s almost even more pertinent now.

You wanted to release it on the one-year anniversary of the Trump inauguration. What is it about the video that provides context for the current administration?
First of all, I’m just pissed. I’m pissed that this ridiculous spoiled child is speaking for our country. This has been such a tension and stress-filled year. He has given permission for bigots to spew hate and violence, families to be split apart and deported from their homes, he has rolled back protections for the environment and animals in the most crucial moment on earth, and is nonchalantly tweeting about nuclear war?!? I mean truly, fuck this guy and the current Republican party for allowing this horrifying nonsense to continue. We are living in a corporate political takeover. My response and antidote to that is showing and promoting all the love and creating art that reflects the times. I have been taking a strong look at myself and my role in the system. I have been lucky enough to be surrounded by people from every background, religion etc. all my life. When you are exposed to different ideas & cultures, it is blatantly obvious to see that we are all one people on this earth and our differences make us beautiful.

We also wanted to link this video with the Trump inauguration and the Women’s March because this video is very femme-centric. All the masculinity in the video is in support of femme energy. If we can survive this administration the future is female. The two people who crush the Donald Trump figure in the video are me and Briq House. I personally want to crush him. But in an ideal world, it would be a black queer woman who gets to stomp him out, just take him down and everything he stands for, that’s who deserves it the most and there isn’t anyone better than Briq House to metaphorically do the honors.

How did you put the glamorous cast together?
Those are my friends and my people! Also, most people in the video are Seattle born and raised, which I love. I like that there are so many people who know this city for what it has been. I feel so lucky to know so many beautiful people who will, like, wear pink spandex or a sequin leotard and dance in the middle of the street. I feel so blessed and inspired by all those people. And we’re trying to have fun in a time that’s so hard and so weighty on everybody. The theme of the shoot was “Partying in the apocalypse.” We’re still out here! Seattle is a colorful place that has raised all of us to be freaking rock stars.

What did you learn about yourself or the city while making this video?
Seattle is disappearing and it’s traumatizing as hell. The Upstairs—the big scene with a whole bunch of ladies at that bar—it’s gone as of now, closed. I want to capture these places and this moment. All of these things we thought would never leave are being taken from us. But on the flip side there are places like the brand new art bar, Jupiter, that immediately feel like home. Creating this was a reminder of what Seattle has been for me—it is the place that raised me—and I’m watching it transform into something unrecognizable. The city is gentrifying so quickly and we are watching everything we loved, essentially be bulldozed. That’s not healthy. Not to mention, the city is built on native land to begin with, so even the things we have come to love were a trauma for others. Change is inevitable but you just hope people doing the changing care about culture and creating something that will be interesting and unique for years to come—but I don’t get that vibe from the people coming in. It feels like it’s all about making money.

How does it feel to have the sexiest shot ever in a video with that kiss between you and your partner, Takiyah Ward?
It feels great! That’s a gooooood kiss. It makes my mom just a little uncomfortable every time, to see me in a passionate kiss like that. She looks at me, like, “Oh my god!” But what’s great about that moment, you cringe a little bit because you think, “Oh, that’s personal!” That’s a real kiss right there, a kiss that comes from a lot of love. It’s real sexy and feels like you were just let into a window there. It feels good.

Would you ever do such a big undertaking like this again?
We did this video so renegade. It was just me producing it, Celene Ramadan (Prom Queen) directing it and Chris Word (longtime Belltown resident) with his camera. I have so many videos I want to make. That’s my love after singing and performing. I think I have one more of these renegade videos in me before we need a bigger budget. The videos I’ve done so far have been such minimal budgets. Thank god for good friends!

Syndicated from The Stranger.

By Nat Levy

WeWork this month opened its fifth location in the Seattle area, with a lot more on the way.

WeWork will open three more Seattle locations this year and another next year, the company said, bringing it to nine offices in Seattle and Bellevue. A WeWork spokesperson told GeekWire that this growth will double the company’s footprint in the Seattle area.

WeWork’s Seattle presence will grow even further when a 36-story tower in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood encompassing both WeWork co-working office space and the company’s WeLive residential concept opens. WeWork representatives declined to share further details about the WeLive project in Seattle.

WeWork’s Seattle growth mirrors its overall global expansion. It plans to open 1 million square feet of co-working space each month, according to TechCrunch.

Here is a snapshot of the new locations:

  • 1099 Stewart, also known as Hill7, is home to Redfin’s headquarters and Seattle’s HBO office. WeWork opened a two-story office there this month, with 1,000 desks.
  • Avalara is the top tenant at a building called Hawk Tower near CenturyLink Field in Seattle, but WeWork is set to establish a significant presence there as well. It has leased five floors in the building, with room for 1,000 desks and a projected September opening.
  • At 1411 4th Ave. in downtown Seattle, WeWork will open 11 floors of co-working space with room for 1,700 desks in June.
  • At the 40-story 4th and Madison tower, WeWork will occupy three floors of space starting in April. That space will have 1,200 desks.
  • Next year, WeWork is opening a location in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, north of downtown. The project at the future 15th & Market building will occupy two floors and total 1,500 desks.

These new locations join WeWork’s four other offices at Westlake Tower, 500 Yale Ave. N., the Holyoke Building and the Lincoln Square Expansion project in downtown Bellevue, Wash.

WeWork has in Seattle filled out buildings new and old, taking a couple of floors in a variety of locations and neighborhoods. It has used the same playbook in other big cities around the world, and WeWork has become one of the biggest office tenants in places like London and New York.

WeWork has raised $6.9 billion over its seven years of existence, including a $4.4 billion round in August. It is reportedly valued at more than $20 billion.

While its co-working platform has expanded across the globe, WeWork has been adding additional services over the years. WeLive provides furnished apartments, with flexible leases and amenities like chef kitchens and high speed internet, typically in the same buildings as WeWork offices.

WeWork has also gotten into managing office space for larger companies. WeWork has reportedly been developing a new product called Powered by We, which helps clients with office space searches, construction, interior design and more. Wired reported last year that WeWork offices for Amazon, Airbnb and IBM, and other enterprises could eventually farm out office building management to WeWork.

Syndicated from