This morning, at a sold out presentation sponsored by the Downtown Seattle Association (DSA), we found out that A LOT is happening in the roughly four square miles that make up downtown, much of it detailed in this DSA report.
Some of the highlights: Pike Market is expanding down to the waterfront; 25 major new buildings are under construction; people are continuing to move downtown (especially those over 50); and everyone seems to be thinking how to make the most of the new Seattle Waterfront, which was the focus of LNWM’s 2015 Thought Forum in partnership with Friends of Waterfront Seattle.
For me, and I think most of the other 1,000 people in the room, what guest speaker Tony Seba said was especially intriguing.
An MIT and Stanford-educated lecturer on entrepreneurship and disruptive tech, Seba got us thinking about the very real possibility that many of us may be using electric, self-driving cars in the not-too-distant future (by the 2030s). The availability of self-driving cars on demand can reduce the amount of parking needed in downtown Seattle by 80%, Seba thinks. Currently, cars spend about 90% of their time not in use (parked), Seba pointed out, even though cars are most people’s second-largest expense after housing. Not very efficient.
Regardless of whether Mr. Seba is right, transportation and housing affordability are two key challenges downtown Seattle will have to address as it strives to attract residents and revelers, as well as workers.