SEATTLE, Wash. — People downtown are hopeful about the Seattle Convention Center expansion attracting visitors and making the area safer for people who live and work there.
The Downtown Seattle Association (DSA) said the city has won the lottery with this building that's expected to attract thousands upon thousands of people year-round, spending money at small businesses and leaving tax dollars to support city services.
Aaron Bludworth's company helps organize expo services nationwide and attended Wednesday's ribbon cutting.
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“Just a huge economic impact," Bludworth added. "I mean, the power of centers, they talk in billions, you know, not millions, especially in large cities like Seattle. It’s a pretty unbelievable facility. Seattle’s done very well with this building.”
It's a benefit to local businesses like the neighboring Hyatt. A spokesperson said they're excited about the return of big group business and have been waiting for years for this expansion.
As for those who are in the downtown core often, people, including Cathy Slater from Seattle are hoping convention center traffic can help make the area more inviting.
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“I’m very concerned about crime, homelessness, drugs,” Slater said. “I think Seattle used to be such a great place for people to come and visit and eat and walk their families downtown, and we’ve lost a lot of that before covid and clearly during covid.”
The Seattle Police Crime dashboard shows 104 violent crimes reported last year in this stretch of downtown, a drop from the year prior.
“We’re seeing fewer violent crimes than we were a year ago," Downtown Seattle Association President/CEO Jon Scholes. "We see fewer people sleeping outside in tents, so we’re making progress to make downtown safe, healthy, and welcoming.”
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This grand opening comes at a time when the DSA reports the area is seeing more people returning to work in person, getting apartments there, and monthly foot traffic is on the upswing.
“This building sort of rocket fuels the downtown’s recovery and revitalization,” Scholes stated. “We’re headed in the right direction. No doubt we still have challenges, but we’re on our way back, and this building’s a big part of that.”