I've written a lot about innovation districts—the current urban planning idea that businesses should locate in the city, in the heart of mixed residential and retail hubs near public transit stops (like Weyerhaeuser just announced they're doing.) 

If the city wants to make good on the nearly $1 billion SLU investment, they should do everything they can to make sure the planned development doesn't price out the next door neighbors. 

The goal is to have businesses overlap with the daily life of the city—and also overlap with other businesses locating in the same neighborhood—to generate a reverberation effect that builds creativity.

An ingredient that's often overlooked in this scripted urban-planning-policy-paper vision, though, is youth culture.  

You know your urban planning designs are succeeding when twenty-somethings are dancing nearby, I wrote in a recent Urban Upgrade column for the magazine about Kremwerk, a new underground ambient dance club that orbits the country's supposed premiere innovation district, South Lake Union.

My point? That the emergence of a weird club like Kremwerk, where experimental sine waves echo off the concrete, is a good sign that Amazon's footprint in SLU isn't as prefab as I'd believed. 

And recent news from the Puget Sound Business Journal—that a once-stalled fancy mixed use 40-story apartment complex is once again slated to go in on the same block where Kremwerk now sits underground—amps those hopes some more.

I was rattled at first by the news, fearful that the development was literally displacing Kremwerk, located at 1809 Minor. But the project, proposed by Security Properties, is going in on the parking lot adjacent to the west. 

"1809 is NOT included in this development proposal. It only includes the surface parking lot located at the middle of the block," DPD spokesman Bryan Stevens told me. 

An avant-garde dance club doesn't appear in any of the renderings, but... 

... there'll be one next door. Unless, the new development changes the market. 

If the city wants to make good on the nearly $1 billion they've invested in SLU, they should do everything they can to make sure "Kinects" (that's what Security Properties has named the project) doesn't price out the next door neighbors. 

I have a call in to Kremwerk. 

 


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