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June 2011
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CityLink Seattle

One-year highlight of Pioneer Square Revitalization Strategy reveals progress in broadband availability, crime reduction, and improvements to neighborhood

Last week, Mayor Mike McGinn provided a one-year update on the progress of Pioneer Square 2015, A Strategy for Seattle’s First Neighborhood. This report, originally released in June 2010, laid out action items that would revitalize Pioneer Square as a destination for new jobs, residents, and nightlife. The mayor gave a progress update and also laid out his priorities for continuing this strategy in the next 18 months.

“Pioneer Square is a wonderful asset, but it’s had some hard times. We’ve rolled up our sleeves and worked hard with the community to revitalize the neighborhood,” said Mayor Mike McGinn. “Improving our neighborhoods helps bring economic recovery and shared prosperity. From our fiber broadband project to bringing in new residents with the South Downtown rezone to restoring King Street Station, we are committed to making Pioneer Square the vibrant urban place it deserves to be.”

One of the biggest concerns of businesses in Pioneer Square is the availability and reliability of Internet access. Four weeks ago, the mayor joined former mayor Charles Royer to announce the city was laying conduit under First Avenue to connect nearby businesses to fiber-optic broadband Internet. Seattle City Light had already opened the street as part of a utility relocation project, allowing the city to lay the conduit as part of that existing project.

Last week, the mayor announced that Comcast has been selected to provide the next generation of Internet service using the city-owned conduit. Service will be available to businesses on First Avenue this fall.

“We can’t wait to begin knocking on doors and connecting businesses to our fiber-rich network. We have long wanted to serve this neighborhood, because of its reputation as a business incubator, but the numbers just never quite penciled out until now,” said Todd Elliott, director of Enterprise Sales for Comcast.

“Thanks to the city’s innovative proposal, we have an opportunity to meet the growing bandwidth needs of the area’s Internet start-ups for many years to come, as well as to help the city grow its economy by providing the services these businesses need to remain competitive,” he said.

Onehub is moving from Bellevue to Seattle and is very excited about the increased high-speed Internet.

“Onehub is very excited to be moving its headquarters to Pioneer Square,” said Charles Mount, CEO of Onehub. “Pioneer Square has become the place to be for Seattle startups. The neighborhood has great character, accessibility by public transportation, affordable office space and now, thanks to the city, high-speed Internet that is essential to Onehub and other technology startups.”

The city has also taken various steps to improve the quality of life and business climate in Pioneer Square, including reducing parking rates, passing zoning to draw new residents, and enhancing public safety. OED’s Only in Seattle Initiative has invested $100,000 with the Alliance for Pioneer Square for improvements, including replacing historic sidewalk lights, organizing and marketing events (such as Art in the Park, Salsa Saturdays, and Seattle Square Market), and coordinating holiday retail promotion to draw shoppers to the neighborhood.

“The business and community leaders of Pioneer Square have really come together around this shared vision for improving Pioneer Square, and we’re pleased to continue to partner with the Office of Economic Development and the city to make more improvements for our businesses and residents a reality,” said Charles Royer, Co-Chair of the board of the Alliance for Pioneer Square.

Mayor McGinn emphasized that there is still work to be done to complete the revitalization of Pioneer Square.

“We know there’s still a long way to go,” said Mayor Mike McGinn. “We will keep working with the Pioneer Square community to lay a foundation for change.”

For coverage of the Pioneer Square One-Year highlight, read the Seattle P.I. story and the Geekwire story.

Check out the full press release and the full 2011 update of both the city and community actions. Visit the OED site to learn more about the Pioneer Square revitalization efforts and to view the original 2010 recommendations.