It’s no news that bad news is sizzling. And last year nobody got burned like Seattle.
The image of the city, marked by a pandemic from scratch and then a mid-level riot and a homelessness warning, has been roughened and made a prankster at the national level - especially by the conservative press.
Fox News' Sean Hannity labeled a report on his Seattle show with an all-caps signifier: CRAZYTOWN. Other headlines on the network have described the formerly emerald city as"on the support of life", or as a place with a “circling the drain”, “once booming economy that will soon be demolished”
(through tax increases, of course).Sure, we’ve had a rough year, but Seattle boosters are now learning that it’s hard to fix such an exaggeration. When the Downtown Seattle Association released a video a year ago showing boarded-up buildings with the theme, “The Heart of Ours City is calm ”were shown, were viewed 496,000 times on YouTube. When an attempt was made to reverse this last month with an upbeat video called, the heart of Seattle is open, ”nobody cared. The new one has only been seen 4,300 times - less than a hundredth as much as the bad news.
I also rave about bad news. However, it’s worth pointing out an underreported aspect of pandemic-era Seattle - that’s all the people out therewho completely ignored the negative narrative.
people like Navjit Singh.
Singh is 29 years old, and when faced with all of the above PR about the city last year, he didn’t freak out or crouch or fled to Bellevue; instead, one day he drove straight up Capitol Hill in Seattle next to the ragged CHOP / CHAZ zone that infuriated Fox News when it saw a plywood-covered, graffiti-strewn little shop.
“They gave up and moved out,” says Singh of the previous tenants. “We said ‘that’s it! This is the place. ‘”
So Singh is now co-founder of Spice Box, a restaurant that specializes in North Indian cuisine. His father Makhan mainly cooks. You have signed a rental agreement,because they were insane enough to want to open a restaurant next to the old CHOP in the middle of a global pandemic.
But business is booming, says Singh. Even now, the Walgreens across the street are covered in fresh plywood to anticipate more vandalism. But Singh says Spice Box has no intention of locking or getting in.
“The pandemic, all the problems in the city, it was an opportunity for us,” he said. “People say we took the chance to open here, but it was our dream so we knew it would work 100%.”
We’ve probably written a hundred stories about all Seattle stores closing, and they were all true stories. What was not emphasized, however, isthat at the same time new business applications have skyrocketed.
In Washington state (unfortunately there are no data broken down by city), the US Census Bureau reports that new business startups in the first three months of 2021 have increased by 41% compared to a year ago .
Meanwhile The Urban Institute reports that Seattle’s existing small businesses were the toughest of all major cities studied, and the pandemic closure is leaving small business arrears below the national average.
The result is that “the bigger doomsday predictions about neighborhoods never materialized,” reported this week on Bloomberg Businessweek.Her story shed light on a number of other new stores that opened on Capitol Hill in Seattle despite the pandemic and unrest, including restaurants, a Mexican chocolatier, and a newspaper kiosk that also sells beer.
The allegedly dying downtown Seattle is also showing unexpected signs of life. This month it was announced that the semi-abandoned Macy’s building had been purchased for nearly $ 600 million. Three times what the previous owner paid for it. (about News broke last week that some companies, including a law firm and an asset management company, in the past decade.)
.had rented a few floors of in the new Rainier Square Tower downtown. This is the same buildingwhich Amazon made a symbol of its opposition to Seattle’s proposed corporate taxes a few years ago.
Amazon’s relationship with Seattle continues to change. But if taxes are really that outrageous, what use would it be for an asset management company of all people to sign a big lease in order to stay?
Then there was news that two life science companies got in a bidding war went over an office complex and paid one more than three times the tax value for it - $119 million.
This all seems like a lot of action for a place orbiting the drain. Are these people just not seeing Fox News?
Seriously, the pandemic has tested Seattle in countless ways.It has exacerbated some of our worst pre-existing conditions, and now the city has a ton of urban repairs to do.
But I can’t help but believe Seattle will be doing well. One of the less told stories of the dark plague year is that so many people here are really crazy hopeful dreamers. Enough not to join the hype. In order to tear the plywood off anyway, warnings of life support measures are doomed.
I think we’re CRAZYTOWN after all.
Danny Westneat: firstname.lastname@example.org; Danny Westneat for a look at the news, people and politics of the Puget Sound area. One of the lesser-told stories of the grim plague year isthat so many people here are really crazy hopeful dreamers. Enough not to join the hype. In order to tear the plywood off anyway, warnings of life support measures are doomed.