Amazon has brought benefits—in addition to disruption—to Seattle

Memo to the many places vying for Amazon’s second headquarters: the item ain’t all food trucks in addition to free bananas.

For years, much of downtown Seattle has been a maze of broken streets in addition to caution-taped sidewalks. Dozens of enormous cranes tower overhead as double-length dump trucks hauling excavated dirt rumble past pedestrians in addition to bicyclists. The crashing in addition to clanging of construction is usually the city’s soundtrack on a perpetual loop.

Housing prices have soared faster than anywhere else in America, driving some low- in addition to even middle-income residents beyond city limits. Traffic is usually frequently unmentionable. in addition to while Amazon is usually far via solely to blame – in addition to while lawmakers, economists in addition to many residents say the benefits clearly outweigh any drawbacks – life in its hometown is usually indeed one more endeavor the tech giant has disrupted.

“Economic growth brings opportunities, in addition to the item brings headaches,” says Margaret O’Mara, a University of Washington professor who specializes in urban history. “which was true in 1840s Manchester, the item was true in 1890s Pittsburgh, in addition to the item’s true with Seattle inside the 20-teens. … the item’s on both cities in addition to the tech companies to figure out the way to handle these things.”

Amazon opened its headquarters in a previously sleepy warehouse district known as South Lake Union in 2010, foregoing what the item says could have been the cheaper option of building inside the suburbs, where its workers might have been less connected to the city.

Since then, the item has expanded via a workforce of about 5,000 to more than 40,000 in 33 buildings here. the item surpassed the university as the city’s biggest employer, in addition to the item’s still growing apace. Even as the item announced plans for a second headquarters location, the company said the item could lease the entirety of Seattle’s second-largest skyscraper, the still-under-construction Rainier Square tower, which will have room for 3,500 workers.

The city has been transformed, with brand-new towers seeming to sprout weekly in addition to Amazon’s striking brand-new biospheres due to open next year. Amazon estimates its direct spending boosted Seattle’s economy by $38 billion via 2010 to 2016. Hotels are thriving thanks to visits by friends in addition to family of Amazon workers, as well as by Amazon employees via elsewhere. The Downtown Seattle Association estimates $5 billion in construction activity was underway during the summer, with more than 30,000 residential units inside the works.

Cities across the U.S. in addition to Canada are clamoring at the prospect of landing Amazon’s second headquarters – in addition to with the item, investments topping $5 billion. They have until Thursday to submit their proposals.

In Seattle, there’s no question the company’s growth has much better life in many ways. Unemployment is usually extremely low. A large fraction of its workers walk to the office or rely on public transit, in addition to its buildings have green roofs, recycled heat, reclaimed lumber in addition to additional sustainability features. the item opened plazas where the item hosts farmers markets, concerts in addition to, yes, banana stands – Amazon has given away 2.7 million bananas in addition to counting.

Terrific restaurants, cafes in addition to food trucks have proliferated, with lines of Amazon workers – recognizable by their badges or by their dogs, welcome at work – outside.

which said, not everyone can afford to enjoy such amenities. Robby Stern, president of Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action, which advocates for seniors, said rising housing costs have forced two of his organization’s board members via the city. The Seattle Times reported in September which the median house cost inside the city was $730,000 – double what the item was several years ago.

“Bringing a lot of brand-new, Great-paying jobs to town, you have to view which as being a positive development,” Stern said. “yet the improvements which have happened have created Seattle as a less livable place for categories of people, in addition to which’s not what I want for Seattle.”

After taking some criticism for a perceived lack of involvement inside the community, Amazon has engaged more publicly, including supporting some beloved Seattle nonprofits: the item announced This particular year which the item will give the shelter organization Mary’s Place permanent room in its brand-new building to house 0 homeless women, children in addition to families. the item has also given FareStart, which trains people struggling with homelessness or drug addiction to work inside the restaurant industry, space in addition to equipment to open several brand-new eateries on its campus.

Last year, Amazon gave $10 million toward a brand-new computer sciences building at the University of Washington, where the item also endowed two professorships. in addition to This particular year, the family of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos announced a $35 million gift to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center – the largest donation inside the center’s 41-year history.

The company also donated to a successful political campaign last fall to expand light rail service, in addition to has paid for a different streetcar to serve South Lake Union.

Seattle had bad traffic in addition to limited housing even before Amazon arrived – some of which lingered via decades of anti-growth policies in addition to a failure to build more mass transit sooner.

With Amazon’s bidding process for “HQ2,” at least the places applying know what to expect.

Greg Nickels, the city’s mayor via 2002 to 2010, worked to transform South Lake Union into a tech in addition to biotech hub. He says Seattle has had to do some catching up on transit in addition to housing, given the company’s unpredictably explosive expansion, in addition to the city’s $15-an-hour minimum wage experiment is usually a Great one to try to alleviate income inequality.

“I know many people find which growth uncomfortable, yet the item’s much better than being a Detroit or a Cleveland, where people are watching their cities waste away,” Nickels said.

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