A New Urban Village

On my way home from the library on Saturday I thought that I might stop by the Pike Place Market, our current source for basil.  This meant descending from Fourth Avenue to First, and I started down Seneca Street.  When I got to Second I noticed that the big construction project there was no longer fenced off.  A closer look showed that, like many recent developments, this one provides a mid-block passage.

The new building has been called variously 2 + U (for its location at Second and University) and Qualtrics Tower, for its biggest tenant. Promotional literature suggests a tower built on stilts with an urban village tucked underneath. It was also said to be rare in that it would open fully leased; apparently that’s not the same as fully occupied, because I seemed to have the building pretty much to myself on this visit. Post-pandemic, I expect to have to share.

This panorama begins and ends with a glimpse of the former Washington Mutual Tower, across Second Avenue.  Halfway through, past a squarish tree, that dark building is the Harbor Steps, where we lived during the summer of 2009.  To the right of the legacy red brick building is the Seattle Art Museum.

It was once thought that the building would open in 2019. Several projects on Second Avenue have ground on for years; but at least this one, being on the west side, didn’t interfere with the bike lane like the others.  Not to say that it was without disruption — in 2016 our rug guys, Homa Rugs, lost their store as demolition loomed.  Now, fortunately, they have a place in one of the brick buildings that remained.  Here’s what their corner looked like after it was leveled, back in 2017 (all four of the Harbor Steps towers are at least partially visible here):