You can call Seattle a lot of things. Creative. Caffeinated. Rainy. But you can’t call us stable.
We bring this up because of a line in the statement Amazon sent out last week to announce that it was looking for a second home. Yep — the company that’s been growing like crazy right in the heart of our city is flirting with other ones. High on its wish list for its so-called HQ2? “A stable and business-friendly environment.”
Whether we’re a “business-friendly environment” is a fun question for another day. But “stable”? That’s the opposite of what we are. Especially now. Let’s break that down:
We don’t know who’s going to lead our city next week
Our mayor stepped down on Wednesday. (Yup. We explain the whole thing here). And that means our city council president stepped up. Bruce Harrell became our 54th mayor two days ago. But he might not want the temporary gig. The reason? If he does fill in as mayor from now until November’s election, he’ll lose his council seat. That means someone else from the council would need to be sworn in, maybe someone who won’t mind wrapping things up on the council. Translation: We might end up with as many as four different mayors between September and January. Steady? Nope.
Half a billion dollars is going to transform one or two neighborhoods
You know how Seattle once had the SuperSonics NBA team? Fans really want the NBA back, and the city and big-money investors are looking at two ways to do it. One is to build a new sports arena in SoDo and upgrade KeyArena in Queen Anne to a snazzy indoor/outdoor concert venue (here’s the one-minute concept video). The other would transform KeyArena into a huge sports and entertainment complex, with $40 million thrown at what is bound to be some really nasty traffic (here’s a quick look at that from KING 5’s Chris Daniels). The SoDo idea is the subject of a public petition that’s collected about 15,000 signatures. The super-sized KeyArena is the preferred option of Mayor Ed Murray. Well, former mayor Ed Murray. So … yeah.
We’re gonna pop.
We say it a lot, but it never stops being important: Seattle is the fastest growing big city in America. About 57 people move here every day. The median price for a single-family home is $750,000 and climbing. The strain on our infrastructure is real, and there’s a ton of pressure on the city to handle it. So we’re talking about how to build affordable housing and letting developers build taller buildings in some neighborhoods. Are you going to recognize parts of this city in a few years? Maybe not.
Oh and the Big One could hit any minute.
That’s the huge, nasty earthquake that could tear down a bunch of what we’ve built up. Just thought we’d throw that in here.
Is it so bad to be unstable?
Amazon isn’t stable. Its growth is wild, too. And its mere presence in another city is being seen as a huge economic gift. Cities everywhere are swooning, hoping they might be the lucky place that becomes HQ2.
As world-famous photographer Chase Jarvis told Seattle’s creative community at our event two weeks ago, “You’re either growing or you’re dying. Stasis is total fiction.”
Instability is challenging. But it can be something to celebrate. If we can step up and manage the craziness, it’s a sign that we’re very much alive.