Downtown Seattle Strives to Reinvent Itself

There’s been a shift in downtown Seattle. After two years of work-from-home policies and the shuttering of many street-level businesses in the area, people are finally coming back. Some of them are employees whose offices have reopened for in-person work, but a fair number of them are residents who want to move downtown to be close to the many amenities offered by city life.

For many companies, flexible work seems to be the way of the future. The benefits of remote and hybrid work models are hard to beat, and employees appreciate the freedom offered by these options. With this in mind, downtown Seattle is looking for new ways to entice more employees and residents back to the area.

One strategy the city is considering is a paradigm shift; instead of an emphasis on filling skyscrapers to capacity, the city is placing an emphasis on “third places”: cafes, co-working spaces and other places where coworkers can connect with one another and build community outside the office. The benefit of these third places is that they also appeal to downtown residents for leisure time and relaxation.

In fact, it’s this proximity to amenities and local businesses that has been the primary driver of residential demand for real estate in the area. After an initial downturn at the start of the pandemic, downtown Seattle saw a surge in demand for living spaces in 2021. In that year, downtown Seattle made up almost half of the city’s apartment occupancy increases.

Part of this increase in demand could also be attributed to Amazon returning to hybrid and in-person work models. LinkedIn recently ranked Amazon as the number one place people in the U.S. want to work, for the second year in a row. Factors such as opportunities for advancement, gender diversity and skills growth were considered for this ranking. With its headquarters in Seattle, Amazon as an employer is certainly a pull to downtown for tech workers.

The increase in demand for housing downtown may also lead to some creative new projects, such as re-developing offices into residential space. No matter how Seattle chooses to meet these new challenges, one thing remains clear: downtown is becoming a place people want to be again.

Information for this article was found on GeekWire here and here.

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