It’s in The P-I
There is an article in today’s PI that was brought to my attention this afternoon. http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/374509_retail12.html The gist of it is that small business is being shoved out of the Seattle area in favor of “big box” and national chain stores. It mentions West Seattle and other neighborhoods that are being impacted by dense development.
This is not just happening in Seattle. Neighborhoods across the country are increasingly being homogenized with Starbucks, Gaps, and the random Jamba Juice. Developers can get more money out of national chains, and there is little risk of Gap not being able to pay the rent. That leaves small business out of business though.
I was drawn to Seattle because of the amount of small funky shops and restaurants. My first neighborhood that I lived in was Capitol Hill with the Globe Café, and then to Belltown with the Cyclops Café, before it became a yuppie haven with 18 dollar omelets. LA, years before I was born, invented the strip mall. LA’s Sprawl is legendary, and with all those chain stores came the decimation of local flavor. Just like Seattle, LA skipped its “ethnic” neighborhoods, leaving Echo Park, Olvera Street, Venice Beach, and Little Saigon intact. Downtown Seattle is now finally rid of its local business. 1st ave has rents around 9 dollars a square foot, meaning Mom and Pop are not opening a stand there. Developers rarely want to take a risk on a first time entrepreneur. Look around Ballard and Wallingford and see what has happened there. Bahn 88 would never happen in the new 2600 building downtown.
Even if they could afford the rent, developers would much rather take the sure shot with Whole Foods than gamble on a local business. West Seattle is quickly falling to the same developers’ thumbprint as this article points out.
White Center is one of the last places in the area where individuals are even allowed to open a business. This creates a wonderful potential here. There are rumors of a hipster men’s salon and a funky bakery that now calls Pike Place Market home moving into White Center. With our low density, we are left alone by the condo developing crowds. Our area and its lack of development has actually
fostered the growth and flavors of many ethnic groups, but it is a delicate balance. A balance that could quickly shift if developers are brought in.
Seattle has plans for White Center that are a lot different then the plan they had for Belltown. White Center is a potential site for a jail, and a Cabrini Green style ghetto that would decimate the growth that has been happening around here. No one is going to take a chance of sinking their life savings into an area of Seattle that Mayor Nickels wants to use as his poor folk dumping ground. With annexation will come more payday loan shops, 40 ounce convenience stores, cheap bars, and a few more pawn shops to round out the mix.
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