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Empty buildings are bad for your neighborhood

No coincidence that we’re talking about empty storefronts and the feeling that there is an increase in panhandling on Broadway. The core of Broadway is undergoing a massive, potentially very damaging change. And I’m not talking about the digging that we’re about to go through for eight years — that’s how you build a tunnel. I’ll take it.

Instead, the damage appears to already be starting from the creeping decay of the buildings emptied in the light rail construction zone. We’re only a few weeks in — some of those buildings will simply be fenced off and sit there, empty, for a year before being demolished. That’s a long period of chain-link ringed decay.

It’s not going to be easy to stave this decay off. But the Capitol Hill Community Council has made a proposal to work with Sound Transit on using some of the buildings in the area for community gatherings and events. The Council (yeah, I’m an officer) is proposing to hold a council meeting and a community event in the former US Bank building as a way to test out making use of the empty area for community space:

Access to this location with public events would counter the visual impact of closed business and vacant areas and help establish a positive relationship with Sound Transit and the new light rail station with its impact on the community. Please consider this a pilot project in using vacant space and a viable resource in connecting to the community and a chance for various community groups to establish a working relationship with Sound Transit.

The Council needs a better meeting place anyway, so it could be a good way to start.

Sound Transit has also made some effort to mitigate the decay with efforts like the now-infamous Jack in the Box art installation and those lit fabric curtains you see waving in the windows of the former Ace Barbershop and other shuttered storefronts on Broadway. It’s going to take this and more to keep things from getting worse on Broadway.

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10 thoughts on “Empty buildings are bad for your neighborhood

  1. Fall-winter version of an indoor farmers market or craft market (weekly or monthly) in one of these buildings (of course if there is open space in them for stalls/tables).

  2. Has anyone presented a good reason why Sound Transit forced all the tenants out a year before they’ll be torn down? Why couldn’t they let business go on as usual until a few weeks before demolition?

  3. This is probably one of the best ideas I’ve heard. Just give it to the farmers for nearly free. Heck, isn’t it owned by the public anyways?

  4. Apparently it’s legally required for them to sit vacant for a year. Which is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.

  5. I hate to throw cold water on the idea to have an indoor market in the unused buildings, but my information is that the demolition will start next January, and the outdoor Farmer’s Market lasts until Thanksgiving. So, realistically, there is no time to stage such an idea.

  6. such a good idea! Those buildings are definately beginning to get creepy, and another year of that is unbearable, especially with all the construction being done further North on Broadway, it’s becoming a dead street. A market would be excellent, or what about art walks? There are a lot of capital hill artists that would love to display some work every now and again, an art walk once or twice a month would be incredible.