A restaurateur asked me this question, so I talked to some people around. Here are some of their answers:
1. The relocation of the Amazon office from the ID to Lake Union is a big factor. According to an estimate, 1,300 employees have moved out, and by next April, there could be more moving from Vulcan’s Union Station and Pac-Med building. Don Blakeney, executive director of CIDBIA said, “That’s a huge lunch crowd.” Unfortunately, with the move, an Amazon staffer had to say goodbye to a favorite Chinatown restaurant. He said he wouldn’t be able to come back for lunch in the ID after he moved. Amazon declined to comment on this.
2. The closing of Washington First International Bank (WFIB) in July hit the community hard. Several of WFIB’s shareholders have deep roots in the ID. If they have lost chunks of money to WFIB, do you think they can afford to spend money freely?
3. One obvious reason why the ID is hurting is tied to the economy. There is a high unemployment rate, as well as a high rate of foreclosures in the housing market.
4. Dirty alleys give tourists a bad impression of the ID.
5. Limited parking discourages diners and shoppers from visiting.
6. “Get rid of the drug addicts and panhandlers, and we will visit here more often,” said a white couple at the recent ID Summer Seafair Festival.
Many community groups such as the Chinatown-International District Business Improvement Area, the Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority, and the InterIm Community Development Association are working to overcome these barriers and to create fun events in the ID like the Night Market to bring in thousands of people.
Remember, President Roosevelt would try anything to make it work for America. We should keep plugging for the ID.
Roosevelt said, “Take a method and try it. If it fails, try another. But above all, try something.”
The point is, don’t give up, no matter what. ♦