Only 10 years ago, Seattle was a completely different vision of urban design and structure than it is today. Needless to say to get where our city at this point in time as far as development and growth is concerned, may not have been possible without as Glaeser would put it, an “autocrat behind you to do things that one would consider unthinkable”. On the other hand, I would argue that passion, curiosity and intellectual rigor don’t really require an “autocrat”, but rather can inspire a city and its residents to follow the vision of a developer regardless. Love it or hate it, Paul Allen’s vision and Jeff Bezos’s ingenuity have given our city new life and direction in terms of development far beyond what anyone who grew up here could have ever imagined. The question really is how do I convince those nimby folks who still refuse to acknowledge how imaginative and beneficial this specific type of growth is for our region? It really goes to the core question how does one really know what great development is when many times the topic alone can be so incredibly contentious? Well I would say just look close at the person or persons behind it, look at their motivations and try to understand their shared vision.
Were it not for the New Seattle as I see it, I would not have even considered moving back to begin with. To witness what has transpired in our city in my opinion is nothing short of spectacular. My exuberance is neither irrational nor short sighted in this regard, and I have grown to have complete confidence in these industry tycoons from our region who I feel genuinely have a strong connection to our region and our best interest as a developing city at heart. The almost surreal yet practical imaginations of these individuals have inspired our city as a whole, and continue to inspire those who both live and work here, and even those who relocate here as part of the vision these folks created. So how does someone overcome their aversion to development like what is taking place in South Lake Union which some urbanologists might consider soulless?
My suggestion is to look closer at the character of the developers themselves, and more importantly their efforts to create a new sense of place and community in Seattle that didn’t previously exist. I understand the sentiments of native Seattleites, and their desire to find connection and pay homage to the past no matter what neighborhood they find themselves walking in. But understand this is a work in progress, and people need to learn to trust the strength and vision of those people who genuinely love this city, have a strong connection to it, and have our genuine best interests at heart.