In the interest of being even-handed, I present to you the case for downtown condo mania, courtesy of the Seattle Times.
The more housing we build downtown, the more desirable downtown becomes for all — residents, workers, visitors and tourists. Many people who live downtown invest in downtown. They donate their time and resources to social services and nonprofits, they care about their neighborhood and they shop and dine downtown.Considering that Seattle is one of the most childless cities in the country, downtown condos should be a no-brainer, right? Obviously there are a lot of people like the author of this editorial that really do prefer the downtown condo lifestyle. However, like many of the commenters on my previous post on this topic, I'm wondering whether all of these grand plans for tall slender condo towers will actually materialize when (if?) the real estate slowdown finally becomes a reality in Seattle.
Unlike other dense cities, Seattle is not a downtown comprised of real-estate investors. During its 1990s building boom, Vancouver, B.C., overbuilt housing, selling half of it to out-of-town investors who weren't interested in developing a community. In Seattle, the vast majority of the local demand for housing is being filled by people who choose to live here, thereby ensuring that our growth will be smart growth. And this benefits us all.
The new code will also help reverse a prolonged trend toward urban sprawl. In the past few decades, baby boomers have created urban sprawl by moving ever farther into the suburbs to raise families. That trend is reversing. As their children grow up and move out, many of these "empty nesters" are moving back to the cities and into the downtown neighborhoods to free themselves from traffic commutes, to be closer to urban cultural amenities and to shed some of the responsibility that comes with maintaining a house and a yard. In turn, more young families can now "recycle" these suburban homes rather than build new ones and extend suburban sprawl.
In my 29 years of downtown living, I've lived close to the Pike Place Market, Pioneer Square and Westlake Park — and not once have I regretted living in any of these wonderful downtown neighborhoods. Each has its own distinct flavor: Pike Place with its quiet evenings, Pioneer Square with its special historic buildings and scale, and Westlake with its shopping, its theaters and its people-filled streets.
(William Justen, Seattle Times , 06.16.2006)