I think this comment about development near the viaduct needs to be interrogated a little more:
No one anticipates the old buildings will be replaced en masse by a wall of gleaming, high-rise condos. The constraints on development are too numerous.
Many buildings are protected by historic-preservation rules. Zoning limits building heights to 160 feet, tops — much shorter than just a block or two inland — and city officials don’t seem inclined to change it.
That’s unfortunate, says Hugh Hotson. His family has owned the Maritime Building, between Marion and Madison streets, since the 1960s.
“You could have a whole new city down there,” he says. If left to his own devices, Hotson says, he’d build tall — “something between Hong Kong and Vancouver, but built for Seattle.”
I’m curious what possible objection there could be to Mr. Hotson’s plans. I think the concepts of neighborhood scale and character are deeply flawed — most of the world’s great buildings are out of scale and out of character with their surroundings — but if there’s anywhere tall buildings would fit in, it’s in the shadow of downtown. So what is the city’s problem?
Are we going to run out of historic architectural examples in that area?
Is it the construction jobs new development would bring?
Is it the increased tax revenue from more property value and more people living and working in the city?
Is it the greater number of activities accessible from nearby transit hubs?
Or is it the greater number of people year-round on the waterfront, preventing it from being dead space on a dreary mid-November weekday? What is the objection, unnamed “city officials?”
More broadly, the fact that there are serious development plans in this corridor makes me feel better about the general trajectory of the waterfront. I’d be very happy if my initial skepticism proves wrong.