In Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood, home of Amazon, it's a jungle.
“It's like, which way can I go; which way can I not go. You get a little frazzled,” said one driver.
Frazzled, indeed. The area, once a sleepy mix of a few old houses, small businesses and prostitutes, is now a bustling business center. Cars mix with bikes, pedestrians and streetcars. Getting around can be...complicated.
“It's a little dicey,” said another driver. “It's not fun to go around.”
Online giant Amazon.com is already outgrowing its new headquarters here and wants to triple its original size a few blocks south across Denny Way. It’s a development so big it would alter the Seattle skyline: three towers up to 40 stories high, 3-million square feet that would take up three entire city blocks. Not to mention some 12,000 additional people, and their cars here everyday.
The scope of the project is raising concerns about just how bad traffic may become through the Denny corridor where the streets already seem maxed out at rush hour. Amazon is yet to present a plan for how it would address those issues to the city. It has hired a traffic engineer to study the impact on the area and city planners say the project is not a done deal.
“We're not rubber stamping anything,” said Bryan Stevens of Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development. “We are going to look at their application with a keen eye to make sure they've addressed all of the potential impacts that would come with new development.”
Some believe, however, Seattle should simply make room for Amazon and it's enormous new plans.
“Amazon is injecting a lot into the economy,” said Anne Paper, who recently took a job with the company. “I think Seattle should be welcoming that and do what needs to be done to keep the economy thriving.
More information about the proposal can be found on the Design Review Board's website here.