A 'thriving downtown' Seattle or 'a fentanyl market': Today So Far
- “We can have a revitalized, thriving downtown with retail and restaurants and arts and culture, or we can have a fentanyl market. We can’t have both." — Downtown Seattle Association CEO Jon Scholes
- Things are getting busy over at Boeing.
- Early morning train derailment on the Swinomish Reservation, near Anacortes.
This post originally appeared in KUOW's Today So Far newsletter for March 16, 2023.
The message to downtown Seattle businesses and city leaders was pretty straight forward.
“We can have a revitalized, thriving downtown with retail and restaurants and arts and culture, or we can have a fentanyl market. We can’t have both," Downtown Seattle Association CEO Jon Scholes told a crowd gathered at the Seattle Convention Center recently.
Scholes' State of Downtown address contained a lot of sobering news, but nothing folks have been entirely unaware of. Downtown populations have not recovered from the pandemic. Office workers aren't coming in as much. Hotel stays are down. That means local businesses don't have as much needed foot traffic. Downtown residents aren't enough to make up the difference, and downtown needs more residents in general. Amid all of this, Scholes points out that between 2020 and 2022, Seattle lost more people to overdoses than from the Covid-19 pandemic. Scholes wants city leaders to do a few things, including, improving conditions on the street, and bringing people back into downtown offices.
As KUOW's Joshua McNichols reports, Scholes also wants the city to "do no harm," which he says is code for, "Do all these things without raising taxes on businesses."
Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell was present at the event, and said that plans were in the works to fix a lot of downtown's woes. He didn't give a lot of details, however, other than saying, "Bear with me." Right now, he says he is amassing the political and financial backing needed for such plans. Check out the full story here.
Boeing is about to get busy. A Saudi Arabian airline plans to launch its operations with an all-Boeing fleet of 787 Dreamliners.
Saudi Arabia's Riyadh Air will buy 39 Dreamliners, with an option to buy 33 more in the future. Another airline, Saudia Air, is also aiming to buy some 787s for its long-haul fleet. This all adds up to 121 Dreamliners.
"It's the fifth biggest [order] in Boeing's history by theoretical dollar value," aviation analyst Richard Aboulafia told KUOW. "By any metric, it's pretty sizable.”
The good news comes after Air India purchased 200 planes last month. Check out the full story here.
More details are trickling in about the early morning train derailment on the Swinomish Reservation, near Anacortes. At first, it was stated that about 5,000 gallons of diesel fuel leaked out as a result, but some folks are scaling back that estimate. The train was carrying diesel, however, the reported leak came from one of the engines that derailed, not the cargo. The state's Department of Ecology says that the spill happened on land, and doesn't seem too concerned about any leaks into local waters.
Like I said, it's still early in this story, and more details will emerge. Read the story here.
AS SEEN ON KUOW
The University of Washington is seeing record numbers of people using its food pantry. It’s trying to keep the shelves stocked as demand grows. Last fall quarter, the UW Food Pantry served more than 3,500 people. This quarter, it’s on track to exceed that. The program was initially created for students. Now it’s extended to anyone with a Husky ID card, including staff and faculty. (Ruby de Luna / KUOW)
DID YOU KNOW?
The TV show "Friends" was originally called "Insomnia Cafe." Actually, it had a few original names, including "Friends Like Us," "Across the Hall," and "Six of One." Scripts with such alternate titles are on display at the FRIENDS Experience in downtown Seattle right now.
Show creators David Crane and Marta Kauffman penned a short script (only seven pages) for "Insomnia Cafe" sometime in the early '90s. It was a bit different than the show that eventually began airing in 1994. One rumor is that Ross and Rachel weren't initially supposed to be love interests, however, Joey and Monica were. There was also an older character named "Pat the cop," who was written into the show and then nixed. Once they were able to get NBC interested in the show, changes started to happen.
I was thinking of these factoids upon hearing that the FRIENDS Experience is going to hold a trivia night at the Clock-Out Lounge, March 27. It will feature 50 questions, spanning all 10 seasons, which means you can expect that superfan with a Central Perk t-shirt to be present. Prizes will be for first, second, and apparently last place. Details here if you want to start putting together your team.
ALSO ON OUR MINDS
The U.S. European Command has declassified footage showing the moments when two Russian fighter jets flew very close to a U.S. drone over the Black Sea, dumping fuel on it — and, the Pentagon says, eventually flying into the drone. The video footage appears to show the U.S. craft was damaged by a collision.