Seattle Developer Seeks Advice from Community Creatives

One Seattle developer decided it was in their best interest to bridge the gap between creative community voices and neighborhood development projects.  Swedish developer Skanska is letting the community influence what shops and restaurants go on the ground floor of a new 13-story office building near Amazon's headquarters.  Before beginning construction, Skanska decided to ask the local community what they would like to see in the open-air market space on the first floor of the yet-to-be-constructed building.  Instead of a town hall meeting, the developer is using an online service called Popularise that lets people submit ideas for local projects and vote on them.  For the digitally handicapped, Skanska has also set up chalkboards at the projects site for people to write down their suggestions.

Of the 36 ideas for the 400 Fairview project, suggestions include everything from a sex toy store, brewery, yoga studio, to a blow dry bar and sushi bar.  Skanska is talking to a variety of retailers, based on popular ideas, to determine who will be the best fit.  By tapping into what the community wants, Skanska can ensure that small businesses thrive.  For example, if a large portion of the community is in favor of a brewery, that business will likely do well.

Many developers around the country do not take the time to meet with members of the community to seek their opinions on projects that will ultimately be apart of their everyday lives.  After the building is built, developers try to lease it with whatever they can, often filling the spaces with companies the community does not need.  The ultimate goal is to create a space that facilitates community, encouraging users to interact with each other sharing in the most basic actions of human communication in a post digital world.