As Seattle’s downtown recovery efforts are in full swing to keep businesses and tourism thriving at pre-pandemic levels, workers returning to the office and foot traffic remain well below expectations.
As remote employment has become a popular solution to weathering a pandemic, Jon Scholes, President and CEO of the Downtown Seattle Association (DSA) cites a survey that only 18% of employees want to work remotely full-time.
“Most people say they want to be back in the office or they want the ability to work remotely and be in the office,” Scholes told the Gee and Ursula Show. “And I think that’s where we’re going to end up, where we have a majority of people back in the office, not five days a week, but maybe a majority of the week.”
Offices are now only 42% full compared to before COVID-19, according to DSA data.
“We think downtown Seattle can still be very relevant and will be very relevant for work,” Scholes said. “The jury is still out on exactly what work will look like in six months or a year, but I think downtown Seattle is in a better position than most downtowns to get a lot of activity back, because we have a lot to offer. We are well balanced. We have a good mix. And we have more people living downtown than ever before.
People ‘rediscovering what they love’ in Seattle as tourism recovers to near pre-pandemic levels
Scholes believes DSA investments in outdoor events, concerts and happy hours in parks and public spaces will continue throughout the fall to encourage engagement in the center space. -town.
Last spring, smartphone activity in downtown Seattle was at 52% of its 2019 levels, according to the Seattle Times. Of the 62 cities surveyed, Seattle ranked 40th in recovery.
“I think perception is a big part of that. People who haven’t been downtown in two years think it’s all closed, closed, nothing open, a ghost town, that’s not the case at all,” Scholes said. “We will welcome 3 million visitors in July this summer. That’s roughly the number of people visiting downtown in July 2019, so we’re working our way back. We definitely have challenges ahead, but we’re on the right track here.
With the ongoing struggles to hire and recruit police officers in Seattle, crime continues to rise. According to the Seattle Police Department, 47,773 crimes were reported last year, an increase of 10% from 2020 and nearly 13% from 2019, with violent crimes and property crimes increasing both. Downtown Seattle is one of the most criminal neighborhoods in the city.
“We are making progress on this under the leadership of our mayor and municipal attorney, Ann Davison. From winter to spring, we saw an almost 20% reduction in violent crime and property crime between those two periods,” Scholes said. “A year ago there were over 100 locations in the city center with tent camps, many of which were contributing to violent behavior and putting many vulnerable people at risk.”
Scholes says there are now fewer than 10 pitches with around 13 tents in the greater city center today.
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