By Julia Li
A grant from the city of Seattle could help kick-start a new round of revitalization efforts for the U District. The Office of Economic Development awarded the University District Chamber of Commerce a $70,000 grant to help grow the neighborhood’s economic and cultural livelihood. The grant is a slice of $844,000 the city is doling out to nine business districts this year through the Only in Seattle Initiative. According to Seattle’s OED website, the Only in Seattle Initiative “promotes a healthy business environment for business organizations and neighborhood business districts.”
Don Schulze, best known in the neighborhood for his restaurant Shultzy’s, is on the Chamber’s board of directors and is helping to lead the task force. He says the planning process has just begun, and the grant money will help generate structure and organization to get the wheels rolling. Part of the grant money will help create a steering committee of representatives from residential areas, businesses, and the University of Washington. The main idea behind the committee is to get the various U District stakeholders on board with any future development plans.
“We want to make the U District a vibrant neighborhood not just for students, but also for the private sector and university staff,” Schultze says. “We expect to see a lot of growth and urban density.”
Schulze is specifically in charge of the marketing portion of the steering committee. Some of the marketing projects include promotion for events like the U District Street Fair, Ave-venture, and a music festival for local artists. A Festival of Lights is also in the works, in which local businesses would decorate their buildings with white lights. These kinds of events help bring community members together and celebrate U District culture.
In addition to marketing, there will also be committees concerning public safety, urban design, organizational leadership, and retail and business development.