At the direction of Mayor Ed Murray, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) and the Office of Economic Development (OED) announced today project improvements and community financial assistance to support businesses impacted by the 23rd Avenue Corridor Complete Streets Project.
Responding to community concerns about the project, the City of Seattle will reorder its construction schedule to reopen 23rd Avenue between South Jackson Street and East Yesler Way in March, earlier than the currently scheduled April/May re-opening of those blocks. The Office of Economic Development is providing $102,000 of new funding as part of the Only in Seattle Initiative. This builds on recent grants of $220,000 for economic and cultural development projects.
“As we reconstruct 23rd Avenue, we will do more to respond to the needs and concerns of business owners, with marketing assistance, improved signage and individualized consultations. We want all of our Central Area businesses to succeed during the disruption,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “When the project is complete, neighborhood businesses and residents will enjoy a more walkable, active atmosphere with improved access to shops and services.”
To minimize business impacts as much as possible, SDOT will dedicate an inspector to the 23rd Avenue project to closely monitor contractor construction activities, and to hear and respond directly to business concerns. The department will additionally audit its construction closures, detours and signage to ensure impacts to the neighborhood are minimized. To ensure that customers are aware of open establishments, SDOT will create and post street signs specifically tailored for local businesses.
The Only in Seattle Initiative works with businesses, property owners, and other community leaders to organize around a common vision for a business district and attract investment. The $102,000 grant supports a group of business and community leaders that have come together as the Central Area Collaborative to align and expand community focused efforts. Similar efforts in neighborhoods like Pioneer Square have used this funding to bring fun activities to city parks, in Chinatown-International District they supported businesses through the Lunar New Year and Dragon Fest, and in Othello they launched a neighborhood brand that celebrates their international community. In the Central Area, the Collaborative wants to support small businesses with programs like Hack the CD and Black Dot arts and business co-working space.
Additionally, OED has dedicated staff working with businesses impacted by construction. They provide one-on-one consultations and help design business specific plans to help them operate during periods of construction. Additional services include marketing through print and digital sources, if appropriate help with qualifying for the City’s WMBE directory, and assistance with events to draw more traffic to the neighborhood, to name a few.
The City is investing $43 million along 23rd Avenue to upgrade its transportation infrastructure, which will better serve residents and businesses along the corridor. When completed, the corridor will feature new pavement, improved and widened sidewalks, new streetlights, upgraded traffic signals, consolidated bus stops to improve transit speeds, a new water main to replace a 100-year-old water main, public art near 23rd Avenue and E. Union Street, and a new greenway adjacent to 23rd Avenue that will be a safer route for people to bike and walk.
During the project, SDOT and OED have focused on maintaining customer and supplier access to businesses, keeping establishments informed about project developments, encouraging business patronage, supporting community events to bring customers to the neighborhood, and securing a grant to support advertising for local businesses.