SEATTLE -- Seattle's South Lake Union neighborhood is coming alive again, despite the recent recession.
Every day, roads are populated with trucks and construction workers putting up big buildings -- 10 of them in South Lake Union. Within a few years an eleventh will be constructed, all just for Amazon.com.
PaulAllen's Vulcan Real Estate is developing much of the area.Amazon's headquarters complex alone covers more than four city blocks and by 2013, that will expand to almost a fifth city block.
At a dedication Tuesday morning,John Schoettler,Amazon's Vice President of Global Real Estate and Facilities, reminded everyone that the company started moving in just recently.
Amazon employees, and their dogs, first moved in to the neighborhood last year, Schoettler said.
South Lake Union is also becoming a center forbio-medical research. Microsoft also retains a large complex.Retail shops andrestaurants are popping up -- three alone in one restored building from owner Tom Douglas.
There are blocks to develop between Mercer Street and Lake Union itself.The city is remaking the infamous Mercer Mess into a tree lined thoroughfare.And the pace has some long time inhabitants of the neighborhood wondering.
It's insane. We used to watch tumble weeds bounce across the street, said Holden Payne who has worked in the area fora long time.Heremembers what it was like five years ago when South Lake Union was comprised of block after block ofsmall industrial buildings, many just a story or two high.
Estimates are that by 2015 40,000 people will work in new towers that are up to 12 stories high. There's a lot of activity.And parking is now a problem.
It's becoming a hassle, said Payne. Luckily I have my own spot at our building. But people who are coming to visit us or do business with us are having a lot harder time finding street parking.
There are parking garages in most of the buildings, including some big ones.Workers, and residents of new apartments and condos areencouraged to use the trolley and transit.
But the redevelopment of South Lake Union has its critics, including the Seattle Displacement Coalition, which thinks developers are getting too many tax breaks while tax payers pour in millions to build trolleys and infrastructure.
Developers argue they're also pouring in millions into more affordable housing, daycare and other facilities, saying private investment nowtops $3 billion.