Renewal and Recovery of Downtown Seattle: The Importance of our Urban Cores

Thursday, May 26, 2022
Jon Scholes

Jon Scholes

President and CEO
Downtown Seattle Association


Jon Scholes, President and CEO, of the Downtown Seattle Association (DSA), joined CEOtoCEO today to provide a update on activities in the City, and how his nonprofit organization is driving renewal and recovery downtown.

Jon provided a candid look at where the City was prior to the pandemic, and how devastating it was to downtown businesses early on in 2020.

Jon spoke to the status of the City today, and how it compares to other similarly sized cities. He also described the benchmarks the DSA use to make these comparisons. He noted progress in many areas, but said challenges remain, and more improvement is needed.

The City of Seattle, and the DSA, conducted independent surveys. The City surveyed voters, the DSA surveyed their constituents. The number one issue in both surveys was public safety downtown. The DSA report emphasized the "Importance of feeling safe in public places." This is a resounding message that the voters, and stakeholders, in the City have spoken and want change.

Jon addressed the important topics which are top-of-mind for business leaders and the general public. He addressed crime, safety and security, policing, cleaning up the City (graffiti), homelessness, hotel occupancy, convention activity, and DSA's collaboration with City government.

Jon spoke about the importance of employers bringing workers back to their downtown offices to assist with the recovery. He mentioned that, due to the pandemic, the City had 500 closures at the ground floor. He has seen signs of recovery with businesses opening and extending, or expanding, hours but said that the City is still at a deficit compared to prior to March 2020.

Jon spoke about the importance of the public and private sectors working together in the City, and bring about change and recovery in Seattle.

Jon said that the City has many assets and he's optimistic about the future. "Is it perfect? No, is it where we need it to be? No, but are we making progress? Yes." He said it's "Ultimately about that they do, not what they say." That they need demonstrate progress.

Jon said that DSA plays three roles:

• First, as an advocate on behalf of their members, constituents and property owners, to influence City and County decisions that impact their stakeholders.

• Second, as a steward of downtown, providing services above and beyond what the City provides including: daily cleaning, managing parks, events, programming, and marketing/promotion.

• Third, as an information resource for policymakers, members, the media, and the public.

Watch Jon's full presentation to gain access to the important information he shared about downtown Seattle's renewal and recovery.

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