Only in Seattle Initiative Request for Applications Available Now, Due Oct. 31


Only in Seattle Request for Applications, Due Oct. 31The City of Seattle’s Office of Economic Development (OED) is partnering with the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods (DON), and the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture (OAC) to make approximately $1,400,000 available for the Only in Seattle Initiative in 2017. The Initiative provides grant funding and staff support to foster inclusive neighborhood business districts that allow small businesses to grow and flourish. The Initiative focuses on supporting small businesses and property owners to organize around a common vision for their district and attract investment. Funding for projects or staff will enhance the ability for small businesses that reflect the unique character of the neighborhoods where they are located to contribute positively to the city’s economic health.

Applications are due 11:59 pm PST on Monday, October 31, 2016 via the online grant system. Late applications and paper copies will not be accepted.

Review the links below to apply:

Apply today!



An Information Session will be held on Wednesday October, 12, 2016 at 2:30pm in the Seattle Municipal Tower, floor 16, room 1610.

Seattle Municipal Tower
Floor 16, Room 1610
700 5th Ave
Seattle, WA 98104

Parking: Paid parking is available in the SeaPark (6th & Columbia) and ImPark (6th & Cherry) parking garages and in available street parking.

Register today!


Theresa, Heidi and Mikel will have office hours dedicated to working with you on any questions or concerns you might have. Please reach out to schedule an appointment.

Mayor Ed Murray releases commercial affordability plan

Mayor Ed Murray and his Commercial Affordability Advisory Committee

Mayor Ed Murray announces his commercial affordability action plan with Office of Economic Development Director Brian Surratt and members of the Commercial Affordability Advisory Committee

Today, Mayor Ed Murray’s Commercial Affordability Advisory Committee released recommendations to help ensure Seattle remains an affordable and equitable place to do business.

The Committee, which was made up of small business owners, developers, and members of the arts and music communities developed recommendations that focused on small, locally owned businesses.

The Committee’s work builds upon Mayor Ed Murray’s continued focus on affordability in Seattle, including increasing the minimum wage to $15.00 per hour and addressing housing affordability and livability through HALA.

“Affordability is vital to Seattle’s future. Whether it is ensuring people can make a living wage, afford to live where they work or whether they can afford to create something new, we must address affordability from every direction,” Mayor Ed Murray said. “Seattle’s small businesses are what make Seattle a city we love to work and live in. We must ensure that the uniqueness and high quality of life made possible by small businesses today, are possible as the city grows.”

“I want to thank the Commercial Affordability Advisory Committee for their work and their recommendations,” Brian Surratt, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development, said. “The recommendations will be instrumental as we work to fulfill Mayor Ed Murray’s goal for an affordable Seattle.”

The committee’s recommendations were the culmination of collaboration between small businesses and developers.

“The interests of small business owners and developers really are aligned,” committee member and local developer Liz Dunn said. “Developers who think strategically about the neighborhoods they are working in, understand that creating space which is attractive and affordable for small businesses is an essential ingredient for good development and for creating long term value for residents and property owners.  Building spaces that feel like they belong in a neighborhood, and add character to it, create a pedestrian-friendly experience and a true sense of place.”

“Pioneer Square is a neighborhood that demonstrates how growth and small businesses can thrive together while preserving the arts and the historical legacy of the neighborhood all while paving the way for the future,” Karen True, Director of Business Development for the Pioneer Square Alliance, said. “The balance between new development in Pioneer Square and the interests of small business was a model as we developed our recommendations. I’m pleased the committee recommendations include tools for small business owners as well as property owners and developers.”

“As an immigrant and a small business owner, it is important to me that Seattle remains a place where anyone can start a business who has a good idea,” Solomon Dubie, owner of Café Avole, said. “The Commercial Affordability Advisory Committee worked hard to recommend ideas that will keep Seattle affordable for small businesses.”

The Committee made a variety of short- and long-term recommendations. Highlights included:

  • Explore a new entity focused on commercial affordability. This entity would provide support services for small businesses and small-scale building owners, including technical assistance, help navigating real estate issues and City processes, support from non-public funding resources, activation of public agency-owned property, and coordinated advocacy.
  • Institute new financial incentives. Advocate for legislative changes that would make it advantageous (via property tax exemptions and property tax assessments tied to building income) for property owners to support local small businesses. Stimulate a non-City fund that would provide alternative financing options for both small businesses and small property owners.
  • Make changes to public policy. Specifically, focus on the sale/lease of public property; affordable commercial space within mixed-use housing developments, public spaces or transit oriented properties; zoning that encourages small-scale commercial pockets in residential areas; and policies that promote a healthy mix of local, small businesses and chain/big box retail tenancy.
  • Improve the permitting process. Reduce permitting requirements for qualifying “light-impact” small business projects, strengthen design guidelines that favor small business and retail spaces, and enable greater neighborhood input on tenant selection.
  • Expand technical assistance programs. Increase or supplement the Office of Economic Development’s existing small business resources to include a third-party commercial affordability consulting team, coordinated and diversified outreach (more languages and formats), and an online “Marketplace Exchange” for the small business and property owner community.

Additional recommendations can be found in the full report:

Mayor Ed Murray directed his Office of Economic Development to work with small businesses, business districts, developers and other stakeholders to explore the implementation of the Commercial Affordability Advisory Committee’s recommendations.

In the short term, the mayor immediately committed to taking action. For example:

  • King Street Station Activation The City will transform the second floor and plaza space of King Street Station into affordable food and retail space that will serve as an attractive gathering place for neighboring residents, workers, and travelers. Funding: $360,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds for the renovation of tenant spaces, plus possible matching funds from other sources (e.g. federal grants, foundations).
  • Commercial Affordability Consulting Team The City will create a commercial affordability consulting team to assist small businesses and small-scale property owners with a broad range of real estate and business expertise (e.g. design of tenant spaces, feasibility analysis in renovating buildings, business plan development). Funding: at least $65,000 annually in CDBG funds.
  • Financial Support for Microbusinesses The City will assist low- and moderate-income owned microbusinesses (i.e., five or fewer employees) to overcome a critical obstacle to growth: low-cost capital. The City will partner with a nonprofit lender to provide Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) and 0% interest loans. Funding: $122,000 annually in CDBG funds for the IDA and 0% interest loan products.


To read the full response from the mayor including all of his action items, visit

The committee and the Office of Economic Development identified several pressures facing small businesses as Seattle grows. For example:

  • Space is becoming more expensive: In Seattle, asking retail rents are 7 percent higher than before the recession and 28 percent higher than their post-recession low in 2012.
  • Space is harder to find: Seattle’s retail vacancy rate in the third quarter of 2016 was 1.9 percent, down from a prerecession vacancy rate of 4.1 percent. Industrial vacancy decreased from 3.6 percent to 1.5 percent in the same time period. Decreased availability of commercial space across the city creates challenges for small businesses. They are not able to find space that is suitable for small business use, and what little space that is available has experienced dramatic rent increases as a result of limited selection.
  • Available space is getting larger: Many small businesses need small spaces, but the size of leased retail spaces is increasing. This compounds the affordability challenge for many business owners who may not be able to find appropriately sized spaces. Among existing buildings, 25 percent have available spaces under 1,000 square feet. Of the buildings that will come online in the future (those listed as proposed, under construction, or under renovation) the count falls to 20 percent. With only 1 in 5 planned buildings renting spaces under 1,000 square feet it may become harder for small businesses to find smaller spaces.
  • Small businesses are having difficulty obtaining access to lending capital: When ranked in order of dollars lent per capita, the top 10 census tracts received $7,228 per capita in small business loans from 2010 to 2014, more than 30 times more than the bottom 10 tracts, which received $230 per capita in small business loans in the same time period. These bottom ten census tracts are located in neighborhoods of the city including Rainier Beach, Beacon Hill, Delridge, and Lake City, all areas with concentrations of low-income, minority and immigrant-owned businesses and households, highlighting the need to expand technical assistance programs and outreach to underserved communities.


Additional data is featured throughout the report.

Economic Development Highlights in Mayor Ed Murray’s Budget Proposal

Mayor Ed Murray delivered his 2017-18 Proposed Budget to the City Council today, and we are pleased to inform you of some key investments related to the Office of Economic Development (OED).

Mayor Murray is dedicated to an innovative and productive business environment along with an affordable and equitable economy accessible to all entrepreneurs and workers. New investments in the Office of Economic Development’s work will enable us to extend the mayor’s commitment to robust and responsible economic growth, and shared and enduring prosperity for all those living and working in Seattle.

Here are a few examples from the proposed budget which highlight how our office will better help remove barriers to employment by supporting low-income residents developing their talents, better enable employers to grow and innovate, support key industry sectors, and enhance the vibrancy of our neighborhood business districts.

Two summers ago, the mayor launched his Youth Employment Initiative, a citywide drive whose ultimate goal is to provide all Seattle youth access to meaningful employment opportunities. Through the proposed budget, the mayor ensures the continuation of this developing program with an emphasis on reaching low-income youth who face barriers to employment. Since its inception, thousands of youth have expressed interest in these career opportunities. Mayor Murray’s budget invests in the needed infrastructure that will ensure that internships continue to be available over the coming years by bolstering our engagement with the public and private sectors.

Additionally, the budget invests in Seattle’s thriving nightlife industry by funding a Nightlife Business Services Advocate position within the Office of Film + Music. This position will work on policy supportive of a safe and vibrant nightlife sector and advance this industry. The mayor’s investment will help effectively deliver business support and advocacy services to nightlife businesses throughout Seattle.

Last spring, Mayor Murray and the City Council successfully approved new Business Improvement Area (BIA) policies. The new policies help streamline and make more comprehensive the City’s process used to develop and support new BIAs. BIAs are growing both in number and revenues, generating more than $17.7 million in 2015, which enhance the quality of life in our urban districts. The proposed budget allocates funding for additional staffing to support the implementation of these new policies. Doing so will accelerate the establishment of new BIAs and provide greater support to existing BIAs.

Central Area Collaborative Working to Support Central Area Businesses

Only in Seattle Grant Celebration May 31, 2016

Only in Seattle Grant Celebration May 31, 2016

Every year, the Office of Economic Development’s Only in Seattle initiative supports investments in neighborhood business districts, and focuses on the following strategies to create strong business districts:

  • Business and retail development (supporting businesses, attracting new businesses)
  • Marketing and promotion (events, social media, district advertising)
  • Clean and safe (graffiti removal, garbage pick-up, lighting)
  • Streetscape and appearance (catalytic development projects, façade, public art)
  • Business organization development to sustain the effort, including the creation of a Business Improvement Area (BIA) or exploration to form one.

One of this year’s recipients was the Central Area Collaborative. Like every community organization who sets out to improve the conditions of their neighborhood, there is a robust story of community and collaboration. Here is one of those stories.

In April 2015, the City of Seattle’s Office of Economic Development (OED) launched a commercial revitalization planning process in Seattle’s Central Area as part of the Only in Seattle initiative. The desire to develop a plan was in direct response to business owner and community member requests for greater investment in the economic vitality of this historic community. OED hired Nyawela Consulting, a Seattle-based communications firm, to facilitate a community engagement process and write the Central Area Commercial Revitalization Plan. More than 180 individuals and representatives from fifty organizations participated in twenty meetings over a six-month period. OED and Nyawela Consulting worked in partnership to develop relationships and create the environments and processes that would ultimately inspire, inform, and create the Central Area Commercial Revitalization Plan.

The goals, strategies, and measures found in the Central Area Commercial Revitalization Plan support the guiding vision for the neighborhood, as described in the 23rd Avenue Action Plan created in 2013. The City of Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development led a community-centered process to develop the 23rd Avenue Action Plan—an update to the 1998 Central Area Neighborhood Plan that focused specifically on the 23rd Avenue corridor.

All participants involved in the engagement process were eager to attract investments and take action to implement the five goals identified in the Commercial Revitalization Plan. A handful of leaders from various organizations in the community stepped up to form the Central Area Collaborative—a collection of local business community leaders that have agreed to work together and align their efforts and resources to achieve a great business community.

Central Area Collaborative

Mission: The mission of the Central Area Collaborative is to create and sustain a framework for commercial vitality, leadership development and cultural legacy preservation that inspires and attracts investments in high-quality strategies and tools, resulting in wealth creation for historical, present, and future residents, reflective of the brilliance of a culturally diverse and respectful community.

Vision: Seattle’s Central Area is a thriving economic and culturally vibrant community whose sustainable solutions arise from its residents and business owners and the community is respectful of its cultural heritages.

The Central Area Collaborative is a model for a multi sector coordinated approach for economic development which provides the funding, communication, building/construction capacity; business support at all levels and is self-sustaining. Though our works we help retain and grow micro and small business in the Central Area.

Leadership Council Members


Name Title
Evelyn Thomas Allen Convener-BCIA
Hugh Bangasser Central Area Property Owner
Dennis Comer Central Area Business Owner
Leon Garnett COO-Centerstone
Lois A. Martin 23rd Ave Action Plan
Sheley Seacrest NAACP
Heyward Watson Principal, Creat8ve Minds Consulting
DeCharlene Williams President, Central Area Chamber of Commerce
K. Wyking Garrett- Founding member no longer on Leadership Council/still partner Africatown



April-August 2015 – OED Engagement with Central Area to develop Commercial Revitalization Plan

September 2015 – Central Area volunteers formed a collaborative to decide on how to implement goals and strategies found in the Commercial Revitalization Plan

October-November 2015 – Central Area Collaborative applied to the Only in Seattle Initiative

January 2016 – OED informed the Collaborative grant committee that they were awarded a grant

April 2016 – OED awards celebration for all OIS award recipients was held at a restaurant in the Central Area (Taste of the Caribbean) and the Collaborative was highlighted

January- present – Collaborative has been working through the projects that were proposed in the grant to help achieve the goals and strategies outlined in the Commercial Revitalization Plan

[Planned activity] End of summer – Public meeting with those interested in the Collaborative’s work

2016 goals to focus on:

  • Align ongoing commercial development in the Central Area with community input.
  • Establish, retain, and grow independent, micro, and small businesses in the Central Area.
  • Establish the Central Area as an African American arts and cultural center.

They are committed to these goals through the following activities:

  • Develop an organizational structure and framework
  • Help produce Central Area Design Guidelines
  • Conduct needs assessment of independent, micro and small businesses in the Central Area to identify their technical assistance needs; and develop a program to help meet those needs
  • Pilot a recommendation from the Mayor’s Commercial Affordability Advisory group to the benefit of a Central Area business

Only in Seattle Initiative

The Only in Seattle Initiative empowers neighborhood business districts to organize around a common vision and attract investment.

The Only in Seattle Initiative is a partnership between OED, Seattle Investment Fund LLC, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods (DON), and the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture (OAC). Grant funding is available (contingent upon federal and City funding allocations) for services that accomplish goals in the five strategy areas:

  1. Organization – Neighborhood organizations, residents, property owners and business owners collaborate and work together toward a common vision for the business district.
  2. Marketing & Promotion – District has a positive, consistent image that helps draw more customers to visit.
  3. Business and Retail Development – Businesses prosper because they are organized, supported by the community and they receive the assistance they need to strengthen and grow their business. New businesses move into the district that complement and improve the business mix.
  4. Appearance & Pedestrian Environment – The retail and pedestrian environment is attractive, inviting and easily accessible by multiple modes of transportation. Real estate projects that rehabilitate or replace vacant or underutilized spaces generate a sense of forward momentum and improvement in the district.
  5. Clean & Safe – The district is clean and customers, employees and visitors feel safe and welcome.

Other community organizations have gone through OIS community development process. Here are some examples:

The City of Seattle is proud to work with the Central Area Collaborative and are strong supporters of their mission.

Additional resources:

Centerstone Guides the Central Area Commercial Revitalization Plan

Central Area Collaborative receives $102,000 Only in Seattle Grant  

Mayor Ed Murray announces $1.6 million for neighborhood business districts

$3.8 million awarded to local TechHire recipients

Today, Vice President Joe Biden and Department of Labor Secretary Perez announced the release of $150 million in Department of Labor grants for 39 partnerships across the country, including a four-year, $3.8 million award for the Seattle—King County TechHire program. TechHire is a multi-sector White House initiative and call-to-action to empower Americans with the skills they need through universities and community colleges, as well as nontraditional approaches like “coding boot camps” and high-quality online courses that can rapidly train workers for a good-paying job.

Seattle is experiencing unprecedented growth, with over 63,000 new jobs created in the last five years, primarily driven by a booming technology sector. TechHire will create pathways for Seattle-area residents, and particularly those with barriers to employment, to share in this growth.

“We are delighted that our partners have received this award from the White House, and with this additional support, we look forward to expanding their great work with an eye towards a more equitable and innovative regional economy,” said Mayor Ed Murray.

This grant award complements the City of Seattle’s designation as a TechHire community in March of this year, through which the City has committed to serving up to 2,000 candidates by 2020, with a focus on women, people of color, and formerly incarcerated individuals.  Seattle Central College submitted the application for this award: “We are excited to promote our mission of providing opportunities for academic achievement, workplace preparation, and service to the community through primary partnerships with LaunchCode, the City of Seattle, and the Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County. Partners will address supporting new tech talent in a market with supply deficit through accelerated computer programming learning opportunities, registered apprenticeships, and job placement services that result in strong employment outcomes for nontraditional tech talent: people without the traditional credentials to become employed in high-wage IT careers,” explained Dr. Andrea Samuels, Seattle Central’s Interim Dean of Workforce Education. Area employers such as EnergySavvy, Moz and Substantial also pledged their support, as did King County. “Our region’s economic boom is fueled by our thriving tech and manufacturing industries, yet too many good-paying jobs are going unfilled,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “These federal grants will help local governments, businesses and educators work together to connect more people to more opportunities in King County.”

In the past three months since Seattle’s designation as a TechHire community, the City of Seattle convened over 65 training providers, community organizations, employers, and community members in support of the effort. “For us, finding the right hires is about more than just having a computer science degree. Instead, we’re looking for a breadth of experiences to help us build products for a breadth of clients. TechHire-affiliated programs are a vehicle for widening the pipeline, meaning that the best and brightest can find their way to our doorstep even without a traditional educational route,” explained Donte Parks, VP of Culture at digital product studio Substantial.  With a long-standing commitment to inclusive hiring, Substantial is one of the original sponsors of Ada Developers Academy, a tuition-free programming school for women and TechHire partner.

Ada graduate Amira Hailemariam describes the impact of this accelerated training program.  A first generation US Citizen, the daughter of immigrants from Belize and Ethiopia, 25-year-old Amira was recently able to move out of her parents’ home. “One year after applying to Ada Developer’s Academy, I’m now a Software Development Engineer at, and I recently moved into my one-bedroom apartment. The best thing about participating in Ada Developer’s Academy is forever a part of a supportive, intelligent network of women.”

In addition to expanding the impact of Ada Developers Academy, this grant will enable the local launch of Unloop, training for people who have been in prison, Floodgate Academy, a developer operations training focused on underrepresented communities, and LaunchCode, which connects students at no cost to companies offering mentorship and training through paid apprenticeships. LaunchCode has successfully launched and grown this model in four U.S. cities, achieving 90 percent placement rates and more than doubling salaries of participants. “Less than three years ago, LaunchCode started as an experiment to see if companies would take on talented job candidates typically overlooked by HR departments.  Four hundred apprenticeships later, we have shown our model works, and with funding through Department of Labor TechHire grants, LaunchCode will be able to expand to Seattle and help more people reach their potential through education, apprenticeships, and jobs in technology,” said LaunchCode Executive Director Brendan Lind.

The City of Seattle was also pleased to provide support for Everett Community College’s grant application, which received a $3.8 million funding award as part of the Department of Labor grant. Through the “MechaWA Partnership Project”, Everett Community College and the Center of Excellence for Aerospace and Advanced Manufacturing will partner with Boeing and the City of Seattle to introduce currently unemployed young adults to opportunities in the Aerospace industry.

“Today’s grant awards represent a tremendous opportunity for our City and region to bolster employment in our key sectors, and improve access to life-changing career opportunities for our residents,” said Murray.



Mobile Small Business Consulting Heading to Seattle Neighborhoods

Earl Lancaster, Jen Hughes

Earl Lancaster, owner of Earl’s Cuts and Styles consults with Jen Hughes, Director of Training and Special Projects at Ventures

The Office of Economic Development (OED) will host mobile small business consulting sessions throughout Seattle. We will bring our technical assistance partners to different neighborhoods for 1-on-1 business consulting.

The pilot program launched May 24th in the Central Area with 10 small businesses on 23rd Avenue as an effort to continue our collaboration with businesses negatively impacted by construction. Events were held on May, 24  May 25 at Black Dot @ Union. The businesses that signed up received consulting by Ventures in collaboration with the Central Area Collaborative and Seattle University. Yonas Seifu and Mikel Davila from OED worked with the businesses ahead of their mobile small business consulting appointments to ensure they were able to get the most out of their time with the experts. Experts are able to assist with a number of issues, depending on the individual needs of the small business. They can offer marketing recommendations, merchandising suggestions, help with navigating government and permitting and help connect businesses to low interest financing, and more

Staff is working with our partners in various neighborhoods to identify businesses that would benefit from these services.

OED will host small business consulting in the following neighborhoods:

June: South Park

July: Lake City; Hillman City

August: Little Saigon; West Seattle

September: U District; N Seattle Chamber

October: New Holly

November: Ballard; Capitol Hill

December: Beacon Hill

Mayor Ed Murray launches advisory committee to support commercial affordability

Mayor Ed Murray today announced today the launch of a Commercial Affordability Advisory Committee that will make recommendations on addressing the rising cost of commercial space for small businesses, develop opportunities to activate public spaces for entrepreneurs, and identify strategies to expand economic development throughout Seattle.

“Small businesses are essential to the economy our city,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “Many of Seattle’s greatest companies got their start in small, affordable storefronts, garages, food trucks, or as simple coffee shops. We will work with the small business community to encourage affordable spaces for existing businesses and develop new opportunities for those ready to launch their dream.”

During the current period of economic growth, new commercial space in Seattle often is dedicated for larger tenants, real estate values have increased commercial rents, and existing commercial properties have been redeveloped, displacing smaller businesses. The committee will review existing City policies and recommend steps to encourage development and preservation of commercial spaces. Recommendations will be made to the Mayor by September of this year.Percent Increase in Rent

“We have a business climate that is the envy of cities around the world,” said Brian Surratt, Director of the Office of Economic Development. “We cannot take today’s economic success for granted. By ensuring that the entrepreneurs of tomorrow have affordable options today to start businesses, we can be a city of opportunities and a world-class startup hub for all.”

The group will consider a broad range of solutions to commercial affordability, including incentivizing the construction of smaller commercial spaces, further activation of public spaces to the benefit of food trucks and other small businesses, and the inclusion of affordable commercial storefronts in more affordable housing projects.

About 80 percent of Seattle businesses are small businesses, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The Paychex IHS Small Business Jobs Index cites Seattle as the number one U.S. metro area for small business job growth.

“As a member of the East African community, many of my friends and neighbors have started small businesses to support their families,” said Solomon Dubie, owner of Café Avole in Southeast Seattle. “I hope that my work on the Commercial Affordability Advisory Committee will help my community continue to find ways to start businesses and remain in business in Seattle as the city grows.”

The 15 member committee includes business owners, commercial real estate stakeholders, and business development advocates. Members include:

  • Liz Dunn, Dunn & Hobbes
  • Maiko Winkler-Chin, Seattle Chinatown International District PDA
  • Sam Farrazaino, Equinox Development Unlimited
  • John Chelico, JSH Properties
  • Don Blakeney, Downtown Seattle Association
  • Frank Gross, Thunder Road Guitars
  • Solomon Dubie, Café Avole
  • Susanna Tran, West Coast Commercial Realty
  • Dennis Comer, Brown Sugar Baking
  • Mariela Fletcher, MANILA MANILA Asian Retail Store and Food to Go
  • Mark Morel, Morel Industries
  • Tam Nguyen, Tamarind Tree and Long Provincial
  • Karen True, Alliance for Pioneer Square
  • Shanti Breznau, independent retail recruitment consultant
  • Megan Jasper, Sup Pop Records

Positive findings for Pike Street Pedestrian Pilot

The Office of Economic Development (OED) and the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) issued its assessment of the August 2015 Pike Pedestrian Street pilot project, a series of temporary closures of Pike Street on Capitol Hill for pedestrian activity.

“Capitol Hill is an iconic Seattle neighborhood that attracts both daytime and nighttime visitors,” Brian Surratt Director of Economic Development said. “Last year we experimented with enhancing the experience for pedestrians by temporarily opening streets to pedestrians only. We learned a lot and will continue to work with the neighborhood to share what we learned and to identify next steps.”

OED, SDOT, Seattle Police Department, and Capitol Hill EcoDistrict collaborated on the project.  The pedestrian pilot relieved pressure at sidewalk bottlenecks and allowed for cultural and performance activities in the street. Crowds gathered to watch and participate in yoga lessons, an impromptu brass band, and a six-act drag show.

“My guy and I were having dinner at Pettirosso and decided to check out Retrofit’s new couches. Between the time of going into the store and coming out there was a full-fledged yoga class filling Pike Street and beautiful drag queens everywhere getting ready for their show. Our night blossomed into an unexpected surprise with such great energy,” said Tracy Rector, executive director of Longhouse Media.

Staff and community volunteers collected data and surveys before and during pilot test nights and followed up the pilot with a community survey and stakeholder interviews.

“I felt safer and more connected to the community. I was able to reach my destination quicker and found myself visiting other businesses that I may not have otherwise gone into,” said a survey respondent.

One of the most common responses from the survey was that the street felt safer for pedestrians, and there was less congestion on the sidewalk.

More than 41% of people surveyed walked to the neighborhood. 22% used ride-share services and 15% used public transit. 70% of people who walked or used transit options had the option of driving a personal vehicle but chose not to. Only 14% of respondents drove alone in their vehicles.

66% of all survey respondents said they’d like to see a pedestrian-only Pike Street on weekend nights in the future. That percentage of support rises to 70% for neighborhood residents.

“During the pilot nights, the positive energy from the streets felt like it translated inside the bars much more than normal nights. The people seemed less agitated, were more manageable, and the vibe felt safer,” said Kaileigh Wilson, bar manager of the Unicorn and Narwhal.

City departments will convene neighborhood stakeholders in May to discuss the results of the study and explore ways that pedestrian streets in the Pike-Pine neighborhood can creatively meet resident, business, and visitor needs.

The report is available here:

Mayor celebrates with Only in Seattle Award Winners

Last week, Mayor Ed Murray announced the 2016 Only In Seattle initiative grant award winners, totaling $1.6 million dollars in 19 neighborhoods; this will bring together City departments and local business stakeholders to create strategies and improvements that will strengthen neighborhood business districts. You can view how the grant money will be invested here.

To celebrate the initiative, Mayor Ed Murray and the Only In Seattle team hosted a party on March 31st, it included fantastic food by Taste of Caribbean and featured a live performance by The Seattle Woman’s Steel Pan Project.

Brian Surratt speaking at Only In Seattle Initive Celebration 2016 Joan Broughton Dennis Comer Lillian Comer at the Only In Seattle initiative celebration 2016
You can see more pictures of the event by visiting the Office of Economic Development Facebook page.

Only In Seattle’s initiative supports investments in neighborhood business districts. Office of Economic Development Director Brian Surratt said, “Neighborhood business districts are the economic engines of our city. The uniqueness of each neighborhood is one of the reasons people love to live here,” Brian believes that, “The Only in Seattle initiative helps foster neighborhood businesses by supporting community and community leadership.”

Some of the strategies Only In Seattle’s initiative focuses on are:
• Business and retail development (supporting businesses, attracting new businesses)
• Marketing and promotion (events, social media, district advertising)
• Clean and safe (graffiti removal, garbage pick-up, lighting)
• Streetscape and appearance (catalytic development projects, façade, public art)
• Business organization development to sustain the effort, including the creation of a Business Improvement Area (BIA) or exploration to form one.

To learn more about what Only In Seattle does or to contact them, you can check out their webpage.

Mayor Ed Murray announces $1.6 million for neighborhood business districts

This evening Mayor Ed Murray will join business leaders and owners in Seattle’s Central Area to announce $1.6 million in neighborhood investments through the Only in Seattle initiative. This year’s grants will make investments in 19 neighborhoods, bringing City departments and local business stakeholders together to develop strategies and improvements that strengthen neighborhood business districts.

“Thriving, walkable business districts are vital to the success of Seattle’s neighborhoods,” said Mayor Murray. “We work with local leaders and business owners on Only in Seattle grants to develop a shared vision that attracts businesses and jobs to neighborhoods across Seattle.”

“Neighborhood business districts are the economic engines of our city. The uniqueness of each neighborhood is one of the reasons people love to live here,” said Brian Surratt, Director of the Office of Economic Development. “The Only in Seattle initiative helps foster neighborhood businesses by supporting community and community leadership.”

About 80 percent of Seattle businesses are small businesses, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The Paychex IHS Small Business Jobs Index cites Seattle as the number one U.S. metro area for small business job growth.

The Office of Economic Development’s Only in Seattle initiative supports investments in neighborhood business districts, and focuses on the following strategies to create strong business districts:

  • Business and retail development (supporting businesses, attracting new businesses)
  • Marketing and promotion (events, social media, district advertising)
  • Clean and safe (graffiti removal, garbage pick-up, lighting)
  • Streetscape and appearance (catalytic development projects, façade, public art)
  • Business organization development to sustain the effort, including the creation of a Business Improvement Area (BIA) or exploration to form one.

The local business communities in 14 neighborhoods are developing or are launching comprehensive, multi-year strategies, in which the City is investing more than $1 million in 2016:


  • Ballard                         $   85,000
  • Beacon Hill                 $   47,800
  • Capitol Hill                 $  137,500
  • Central Area               $  102,000
  • Chinatown-ID            $  150,880
  • First Hill                      $   40,000
  • Georgetown                $   20,000
  • Hillman City               $   24,700
  • Lake City                     $   75,000
  • Magnolia                     $   15,000
  • Mt. Baker                    $   28,000
  • Othello                        $   152,275
  • Rainier Beach            $    75,000
  • South Park                 $    60,000


The City will make additional investments in Green Lake, Pioneer Square, South Lake Union, the University District,  and Westlake/Downtown through a blend of façade and awning projects, BIA funding, partnerships with City departments, and capital improvement projects.


Through a partnership with the Seattle Investment Fund, a total of $50,000 in façade improvements will be granted to Chinatown-ID for new signs and awnings on three buildings, and to South Park for new signs and security cameras for eight buildings. Neighborhood business district organizations provided a significant match for these project costs.


“Five businesses in Rainier Beach benefited from the façade improvement investments in 2015,” said Patrice Thomas, Coordinator of the Rainier Beach Action Coalition. “The improvements were designed using Crime Prevention through Environmental Design principles to make the stores safer for customers and business owners and operators.”


Additionally, Only in Seattle is granting $75,000 to seven neighborhoods to explore or create a BIA. The seven neighborhoods are: Chinatown/ID, Capitol Hill, Ballard, First Hill, Magnolia, Georgetown and South Lake Union. Existing BIAs have generated over $49 million over the last three years to fund clean and safe, marketing and promotion, and business retail and development programs across Seattle.


This year, Only in Seattle also granted $500,000 to neighborhoods with paid on-street parking or significant construction impacts for capital improvement projects that enhance the commercial district experience:


Pioneer Passage Alley $200,000: The Seattle Department of Transportation will rebuild Pioneer Passage Alley in Pioneer Square to make it walkable and functional for sidewalk cafes and events.

Lighting Study of Chinatown\International District $100,000: A lighting study will determine improvements to increase safety and visibility in the business district.

First Hill Active and Attractive Public Spaces $80,000: First Hill Improvement Association will create walking loops in the district, hold fun events in University Street Park and paint the columns under I-5 to create an attractive gateway to the neighborhood.

Welcome to South Park Signs $30,000: South Park Retail Merchants Association will conduct a design process to create “Welcome to South Park” signs at its gateways.

Pike/Pine Safety and Parking Improvements $27,500:  The Capitol Hill Housing will work with local businesses to remove dumpsters, install lighting and develop strategies to share local parking between businesses and residents.

Love Green Lake Banners and Parking Maps $20,000:  The Green Lake Chamber will beautify the business district with banners and develop maps to highlight available parking.

Westlake Park Lighting Plan $20,000:  A lighting study will define solutions to make the park accessible and inviting during evening hours.

Wayfinding Signs and Signal Box Art in Beacon Hill $10,000: Wayfinding signs will be installed at the Beacon Hill light rail station and art placed on signal boxes.


The Office of Arts & Culture and the Department of Neighborhoods have been integral partners in the Only in Seattle initiative by bolstering the investments and service support. This year, three neighborhoods will receive support from the Office of Arts & Culture to organize festive gatherings of business district leaders, artists, arts organizations and/or cultural organizations to meet and explore possibilities for collaboration. The districts are Lake City, First Hill and Hillman City.

Through the partnership with the Department of Neighborhoods, neighborhood business districts are receiving support from bi-lingual, bi-cultural outreach specialists to offer technical assistance and problem solving for businesses of color in their districts. Six neighborhoods will receive a combined $30,000 in support and will participate in a training cohort throughout the year to develop tools and identify resources to build equity in their work plan.  The neighborhoods are: Lake City, Hillman City, Capitol Hill, the University District, South Park and Little Saigon.

“We’re excited to engage with business owners of color to help shape the direction of our work and make it more inclusive and representative of the entire business community,” said Elizabeth McCoury, President and CEO of The U District Partnership.