Regarding Bill Virgin’s column on SoDo (“The Old Industrial
Heart,” October 2010)—well, he got most of it right.
Dan Raley’s remarkable book, Tideflats to Tomorrow: The
History of Seattle’s SoDo nothwithstanding,
this area of south Seattle is looked on, particularly by those on the upper
floors of City Hall, as that big gray area just south of Qwest and Safeco
fields. One wonders if they would rather not even recognize it for what it is:
the most active and valuable four to five square miles of real estate in the
city. Several years ago during the neighborhood planning era, it was determined
that this “big gray area” actually produced nearly 70 percent of the revenue
stream for Seattle. In addition, about that same percentage represents all the
goods and services to the city loaded and delivered on trucks hustling into the
city’s core and beyond. Yet we are still just that big gray area as they look
out their big windows.
SoDo is going through a remarkable change, one for the good
of all concerned. Currently, there are approximately 1,700 businesses employing
about 40,000 to 50,000 employees. (You’d think the city folks would know these
numbers, but they don’t.)
That makes it one of the largest communities in the state.
Yet, we never get the recognition we deserve, unlike Pioneer Square, Ballard
and the International District. Not to say these and other areas don’t deserve
all they get in the way of recognition. We are simply overlooked.
The changes are occurring because that is what the market is
demanding. Therein lies the excitement. If you plan to remodel, you will visit
SoDo. If you want to locate a small business in Seattle, you will consider
SoDo. If you want to live here, well, that is where the line is drawn. Only
live-work type accommodations exist, which are considered an industrial use by
the city folks. And that’s the way it should be.
There you have it: an exciting part of town to be sure, just
overlooked by many or simply taken for granted.
President, SoDo Business Association