This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.
Agglomeration effects are generally good things for cities: people move to a city because other people live there, and so on. Neighborhoods thrive on agglomeration effects: you open a bar in a neighborhood with other bars, because that neighborhood’s a “destination,” where people go when they want to go out carousing or what have you.
But agglomeration effects can have downsides. Too many bars and sports stadia in Pioneer Square can make the neighborhood feel overrun to some people. Too many hospitals on First Hill means that parts of the neighborhood can feel like a ghost town at night. And so forth.
I think a similar dynamic is unfolding with this debate on where to put the Downtown Emergency Services Center’s new Crisis Solutions Center:
“The City of Seattle was unlikely to use the facility if it were located in Tukwila,” said Hobson, because SPD and Medic One personnel may not have the time and resources to make the trip. The Jackson Place location is ideal, he said, because it has good access to Swedish and Harborview hospitals and is centrally located between the SPD precincts and both I-5 and I-90. Of the 7-8 properties they looked at in the area, the one on Lane Street was the best fit, he said.
When it’s time to build the next DESC facility, certainly the same neighborhood will be a front-runner. After all, it’s so close to the Crisis Solutions Center! And so on, and so on.
Now, I don’t live too far from this area, and I have seen the ways in which large institutions — Seattle U, Swedish, the Polyclinic — create long shadows that seem to overwhelm everything around them. To be clear, I don’t personally oppose this new project, I just think the phenomenon is interesting.