Downtown Seattle Association ‘State of Downtown’ touts growth, laments crime

SEATTLE – The fight for the heart of downtown Seattle took center stage as concern grows about crime and safety.

The epidemic of lawlessness and repeat offenders set the tone as Seattle's Mayor Jenny Durkan met with hundreds of area business owners to discuss the situation.

The Downtown Seattle Association’s annual report claims violent crime in the core is up 30% in the past 3 years.

It also reports nearly 90,000 now call the city core home, and more than 325,000 jobs are downtown. Both numbers are record-highs, according to the report.

The ‘State of Downtown’ presentation also revealed the organization’s fight to continue the city’s positive momentum.

“I know the last couple weeks it’s been good having the cops outside,” said John Gavrysiak, manager at Piroshky Piroshky.

His restaurant is on Third Avenue, very close to the location where a gun battle killed one and injured seven others last month.

Gavrysiak says it’s an open secret that the neighborhood where he works is notorious for crime.

“Kind of an open drug market,” he said. “I’ve been here three to four years and you kind of get used to it after a while.”

The problems in the area are a stark contrast to the record growth.

During the DSA’s annual economic report, Mayor Durkan pledged to work with police and prosecutors to make sure violent offenders stop cycling in and out of jail and foster more programs to keep vulnerable youth from falling into a life of crime.

The DSA’s President and CEO says now is the time to invest in dramatic change.

“No more band-aids, no more kidding ourselves thinking a few more officers for a few more weeks is going to make a difference,” said Jon Scholes.

Wednesday, the DSA revealed millions of dollars in projects that are poised to transform the neighborhood and more plans are in the works along Third Avenue.

While the economic growth is transforming Seattle’s core, those working the front lines hope the dramatic shift will mean people begin to feel safe again.

“It’s definitely an experience every day being down here for sure,” said Gavrysiak. “We’re kind of in the middle of it in here.”