In the early 90's folks here in Seattle came up with a game-plan to invigorate growth in many of it's neighborhoods. Mayor Norm Rice decided to focus on urban centers and urban villages as the way to slow down the Emerald City exodus. In 2004, South Lake Union was deemed the next urban center to be reclaimed and when Paul Allen and Vulcan Real Estate started swooping in, you knew it was only a matter of time before the region was reborn.
Nowadays, South Lake Union is a mecca for tech companies and Tom Douglas restaurants while construction on new buildings dominate the landscape. A lot of folks look at the progress and see victory. What was once considered a cesspool of crime, a lost neighborhood, has been reclaimed as a beacon of local economy. It's basically the shining example of Rice's vision for the city.
But a lot of architects and urban thinkers are still wondering what the legacy of South Lake Union will be. As the tall buildings, sprawling campuses and S.L.U. train tracks continue to grow, will SLU emerge as a thriving epicenter with authentic charm or is it destined to become just another corporate-lined corridor of meh?
Local filmmaker Eric Becker spoke with some of the brightest architects and urban thinkers inside Seattle and out for a short film called "Placemaking & Seattle." It's an intriguing discussion piece about how Seattle's building codes and "lowest common denominator" designs could end up killing the authenticity of not only SLU, but many of the city's wonderfully-unique neighborhoods.
· Saving Seattle's Neighborhood Authenticity Through Better Buildings [The Atlantic Cities]
· Early '90s bet on urban centers pays off for Seattle [King 5]