Can Seattle’s new waterfront help save the city?

It could be said that the Seattle waterfront project has faced some setbacks.

There was a multi-year struggle over how to solve the problem of the crumbling Alaskan Way Viaduct. The back-and-forth debates about tunnels vs. surface streets vs. elevated highways. There was a time when the tunnel boring machine “Bertha” gave up and sat like a stone under the city for two years. And the time Pier 58 fell into Puget Sound.

Then there’s the most recent (though possibly smaller) setback: A concrete workers strike it put some parts of the $756 million project on hold for months.

But through it all, changes are taking place along the downtown Seattle waterfront. And those changes could have ripple effects, possibly fueling a battered downtown and perhaps even affecting how fast-growing tech companies interact with the city.

“That’s the job we have to do as a city: invest in spaces, not just jobs,” said venture capitalist Chris DeVore, who serves on the board of directors for Friends of Waterfront Seattle. “Sure, people want a well-paying job, but they also want a rich experience of living in a city and connecting with civic spaces.”

Standing where the city meets the water, it’s hard to remember exactly what the shoreline was like just a few years ago, when the double-decker Alaskan Way Viaduct rose in all its concrete splendor and the roar of air traffic drowned out everything. the rest. There’s still no shortage of cement and cars, and the sound of construction plays intermittently, but the buildings of Pioneer Square seem closer now, as do the waves of Puget Sound.

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