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Neighborhood Spotlight: Seattle’s Thriving Pioneer Square

By Gavin Curtis

Take a stroll through Seattle’s oldest neighborhood and you’ll notice the new layers of intriguing restaurants and new retail unfolding in Pioneer Square, contributing to the economic vitality and liveliness of this unique neighborhood.

Pioneer Square is making big strides in building an ideal future thanks to the unparalleled change the historic district has seen recently. The neighborhood has welcomed over 50 restaurants and retailers over the course of the last three years. This developmental proliferation and subsequent shift in Pioneer Square’s personality and essence have revitalized business in the area. As companies continue to recognize all that the district has to offer for its employees and those benefits that increased business presence offers nearby residents, the advocacy and support for both Pioneer Square and its local businesses is on the rise.

For years now, Pioneer Square has been a home base to innovative workspaces, fostering creativity, nurturing culture and propelling growth for tech, design, architectural firms, and numerous independent retailers. The historic buildings offer unique office spaces that feature high ceilings, loft spaces, exposed beams, brick, and plenty of natural light. These spaces are steeped in history and innovation, and repurposing such incredible spaces fosters a robust, cultural atmosphere—helping any company to cultivate a more creative workspace. The redbrick and cobblestone neighborhood is currently home to over 852 businesses employing over 14,000 people and raking in well over one billion dollars in annual revenue.

Today, Pioneer Square is considered the country’s first historic preservation district and is protected by both federal and local historic preservation districts. I had the chance to sit down with Karen True, the non-profit’s director of Business Development for Alliance of Pioneer Square to get an inside understanding of the role played by the non-profit over the last five years. Alliance has devoted its time and resources to better Pioneer Square through targeted advocacy efforts, programming, marketing, and community action. As Director of Business Development, Karen acts as the dedicated middleman, helping companies connect with one another, partaking in preservation board meetings, and advocating for company financing.

Alliance is writing a new story for this historic neighborhood, and it starts with the investment and dedicated efforts of countless community members. Alliance is actively engaging businesses and property owners in supporting economic growth, building the neighborhood’s organizational development and advocacy capacity, focusing on the district’s historic building assets, continually enhancing the architectural environment, and effectively marketing, branding and promoting Pioneer Square. The neighborhood continues to transform, integrating the rich diversity embedded in the community. New housing, renovated and already available public spaces, revived alley ways and other developmental undertakings such as the 23-story Embassy Suites and 200 Occidental project—which now houses Weyerhaeuser’s new in-city world headquarters—are all positive consequences of their efforts.

Pioneer Square is the ideal location for forward-looking companies, retailers, and restaurants. It offers an unparalleled blend of past and future, tradition and innovation. The modern architectural fusion into the neighborhood’s signature Richardsonian Romanesque style perfectly embodies the character of Pioneer Square. Community leaders, local organizations, and businesses support this thriving neighborhood on its transformation to one of Seattle’s most promising economic sectors.

Gavin Curtis is a vice president at Hughes Marino, an award-winning commercial real estate company with offices across the nation. Contact Gavin at 1-844-662-6635 or gavin@hughesmarino.com to learn more.

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