A new parklet—a “park” replacing a space of a parking spot—opened in the U District last week. I ended up going to an opening celebration which attended largely by volunteers from the neighborhood association U District Square. Pronto bikes had a booth in the mix and were promoting their bicycle share.
Since I live so close, I figured on attending. But aside from myself and my kids, there was hardly anybody in attendance. Maybe a handful of people here and there. There just wasn’t much reason to shut down the street. There wasn’t much of a sense of a party taking place.
Of course, it’s summer break at the UW, though, so most of the local population (students) were likely out-of-town or off doing other things. But where was everyone else?
The U District used to have more retail and higher end shops, which for the most part moved to U Village. And I suppose most of the car traffic and well-to-do have decided to do their shopping there. People do like their free parking and keeping their distance from the riffraff.
But with the light rail station open in 5 years, I suspect there will be a renaissance. People will be fighting to live here. Yes, there’s drug dealing going on here, homeless and runaway kids, and seediness, and maybe that never goes away, but getting to downtown in less than 10 minutes is going to draw a lot of professionals, families, and non-students into the neighborhood.