Money and people are moving into Seattle at an unprecedented rate. Recent census data suggests the population has increased by over 1,000 people per week. In an apparent effort to keep pace with the growth, Seattle has led the nation in the number of cranes in the sky two years in a row.

Though significant attention is given to the number of people moving in, IRS data shows thousands of people are also moving out.

Today’s episode of Seattle Growth Podcast features interviews with two people who have chosen to leave Seattle and an interview with the Director of Seattle’s Office of Planning and Community Development about what the city is doing to avoid losing more of its long-time residents.

If Seattle has changed to a point that these residents feel the need to leave, what might happen you and your life in this city? By understanding why some residents are saying goodbye to Seattle, you can work together to ensure that Seattle maintains a community for you and those you care about as it continues undergoing its transformation.

Today’s episode features in-depth interviews with Reverend Dr. Phyllis Beaumonte, Cole Austin, and Sam Assefa.


Three residents with more than a combined century living in Seattle tell their side of the story of Seattle in today’s episode of Seattle Growth Podcast.  Seattle’s population has increased an astounding 15.4 percent since the start of the decade. For tens of thousands of newcomers, a bustling, growing Seattle is all they’ve ever known. But tucked within some of those houses, apartments, and condos surrounded by construction cranes are people who grew up in a very different city.

The three interviews give you perspective on how the physical transformation under way in Seattle is affecting some of the city’s long-time residents. Given history has a habit of repeating itself, hearing their stories will give you a better understanding of how Seattle’s future growth may ultimately affect you and life in this city. You will also gain insight into the challenges your fellow community members are facing, so that you can be a part of building a mutually beneficial future.


The episode features Damon Bomar, Wendy Colgan, and Alisha Cross.

Seattle is growing at an extraordinary rate. As more people and money flow into the city, the skyline and neighborhoods are being transformed. What will the future of the Seattle and its neighborhoods look like? Only time will tell as various people and groups jockey for position to have their vision for Seattle unfold.

Today’s episode of Seattle Growth Podcast offers guidance into how you can influence the future of Seattle. You will hear from people who have organized, lobbied, or litigated to play a role in determining what Seattle will look like for years to come. Through these examples, you will have a better understanding of how you can have your voice heard as the city changes around you.

You will hear from Roger Valdez of Smart Growth Seattle.

You will hear from Martin H. Kaplan, an architect and engaged Seattle resident.

You will hear from Ethan Phelps-Goodman about Seattle Tech Workers for Housing.

Through meeting these change-makers, you will get perspective on the variety of efforts underway to set policy.

Today’s episode of Seattle Growth Podcast gives you rare insight into the minds of real estate developers as they reshape Seattle’s streets and skyline. As you look ahead to where you live or might live, these interviews give you insight into the kinds of neighborhoods and properties that attract real estate developers. You will get an inside look into their development process and how you can influence it.

You will hear from Liz Dunn of Dunn + Hobbes LLC, which specializes in the adaptive reuse of existing buildings as well as the construction of new urban infill projects.

You will hear from Joe Ferguson of Lake Union Partners, which specializes in residential mixed-use and commercial projects.

These two interviews give you examples of the variety of developers reshaping the physical landscape of our city.

People and money are flowing into Seattle at unprecedented rates and the city is undergoing a physical transformation like none other. As Seattle booms, the city has lead the nation in the number of cranes in the sky two years in a row

Anyone who even passes through Seattle can visibly see the physical changes under way. But in those buildings being torn down are people and businesses; lives being changed that we often do not get to see from the outside.

The third season of Seattle Growth Podcast gives you insight into the physical transformation of Seattle and the lives it is affecting. You will learn what developers are thinking as they reshape the landscape of our city, how some of your fellow community members are reacting to these changes, and what you can do to influence what Seattle will look like. You will gain insight into Seattle’s history and what that history means for its future. Through this journey, you will have a better understanding of this dynamic city and the role you can play in shaping its tomorrow.

In today’s episode of Seattle Growth Podcast, two people share heart-felt stories about how their lives have been impacted by Seattle’s changing physical landscape: Kailash Upadhyay is a business owner whose building was redeveloped.


Queen Pearl Richard is a long-time Seattle resident who has seen the buildings and businesses change around her.

Ethan Phelps-Goodman, a software engineer who developed, describes how you can learn about and influence further development in the city.

Can Seattle become a hockey town? If the highest level of professional hockey calls Seattle home, what would that mean to the Seattle residents who do not care about the sport? Listen to today’s episode of Seattle Growth Podcast to find out.

Seattle Growth Podcast is an exploration of what the city’s rapid growth and transformation mean to residents, businesses, and city leaders. As a hallmark of that growth, multiple groups are vying to invest roughly half a billion dollars into our community to build a world class sports and entertainment arena. Oak View Group is hoping to renovate Seattle Center’s Key Arena. Chris Hansen and his investment team is hoping to build a private arena in Seattle’s Sodo neighborhood. City council will soon be deciding which proposal if any to proceed with.

Much of the attention for this arena has been on bringing back the Supersonics, a professional basketball franchise the city lost in 2008. In fact, Seattle Growth Podcast devoted an entire season to examining what professional basketball would mean to our growing city.

But often overlooked in this discussion is the fact that the National Hockey League (NHL) may grant a franchise to Seattle if a modern arena is developed in the city.

Today’s episode brings you several perspectives on the existing hockey community in Seattle and what hockey could mean to all residents, sports fans and non-sports fans alike.

Executive Director of the Seattle Sports Commission Ralph Morton describes what Seattle’s economic development means for a possible hockey franchise and what a hockey franchise can mean for Seattle’s further economic development. He is joined in the interview by Kevin Ticen, director of marketing and communications. 

John Barr, a hockey enthusiast behind the NHL to Seattle fan movement, shares insight into the existing hockey community clamoring for the NHL.

Vanessa Kirk-Briley, from Ronald McDonald House Charities explains how professional hockey can have a significant impact on Seattle residents in need.  

Todd Humphrey, a former professional hockey player who served on the Mayor’s Advisory panel that weighed two proposals for a Key Arena remodel, weighs in on the ongoing arena debate.  

How will growth and the potential for a new sports and entertainment arena affect the city’s budget? Find out in today’s episode, featuring City Budget Office director Ben Noble and University of Washington professor Justin Marlowe.

Director Ben Noble (beginning 2:30) gives insight into how growth affects the resources available to the city and how these resources get deployed. He explains whether growth will mean better infrastructure and services for you. He describes the costs of accommodating more people and businesses.

Professor Justin Marlowe (beginning 27:00) has been making headlines for his study on the effect of the city’s arena choice on the budget. He shares why he completed the study, how he was compensated for it, what he found, and how he found it. Marlowe research suggests a Sodo arena could generate $67 million more revenue for the city’s general fund than the proposal to renovate Key Arena. Marlowe explains what this would mean for the budget.


Former Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn shares gives rare insight into Seattle’s past, present, and future in this first of three new Seattle Growth Podcast episodes. The mayor of Seattle from 2010 until the end of 2013 covers the subjects of each of the last two seasons of Seattle Growth Podcast. Season 1 examined how Seattle’s rapid growth is affecting residents, businesses, and city leaders. Season 2 examined how efforts to build a roughly half billion dollar arena in the city would affect sports fans and non-sports fans throughout Seattle.

The episode also features insight into why Seattle is growing from Taylor Graham (Seattle Sounders FC), Chris DeVore (TechStars and Founders Co-op), Maggie Walker (Founding partner of Seattle Venture Partners), and Brian Bonlender (Washington State Department of Commerce).


McGinn currently has a podcast You, Me, Us, Now available on iTunes and is running in the election to be the next mayor of Seattle.


In this episode, McGinn describes what he did as Mayor to set the city up for its recent growth (5:15). McGinn notes how public demand for dense, walkable, urban centers was increasing nationally. “What we were doing was focusing on place and the attractiveness of the place.” McGinn recalls companies who “needed to locate in urban areas to attract the employees they wanted.”


McGinn discusses the challenges created by Seattle’s growth (11:00) “The single biggest challenge is housing. And I think that what we did not do over the last few years was give that the same focus that we were giving to trying to climb out of the recession.”


McGinn opens up about what he would have done differently as mayor given the subsequent growth of our city (13:15) and what change he would like to implement as the next mayor of Seattle (14:35).


McGinn shares how growth has affected him personally (18:00).


The conversation turns to the arena discussion (19:25). “I think we should just push SoDo arena through to its conclusion. The street vacation should be voted on because it was part of the original deal.”  McGinn also comments on the Key Arena renovation proposal (20:45). “The deeper you look at the proposal from Oak View Group, they’re asking for a fair bit of city revenue…When you start doing all the math of the money that they are capturing, my thought is, ‘maybe we should just dedicate those revenues to a modest remodel of Key Arena.’”

McGinn shares how he thought about Key Arena at the time of negotiating the memorandum of understanding with Chris Hansen’s SoDo arena group (21:50).  What happens if the City Council proceeds with the OVG proposal and McGinn is elected mayor? McGinn addresses this question and more (23:50).


Stay tuned next week for insight into Seattle’s budget. Director of the City Budget Office Ben Noble describes how growth affects the revenues and expenses. UW professor Justin Marlowe shares the details of his study examining the effect of the two arena proposals (Sodo arena and Oak View Group) on the city’s budget.

This special episode of Seattle Growth Podcast gives you an inside look at a burgeoning industry with potential to further drive growth in this city. Jeff Shulman had an opportunity to visit the Geekwire Sports Tech Summit and interview individuals uniquely involved in the the sports tech.

In this episode:

Taylor Soper, the sports tech reporter for Geekwire, (beginning around 4:27) describes how Vicis, Amazon, and Microsoft are driving sports tech in the region and what can be expected in the future.

Former professional hockey player and co-founder of League, Todd Humphrey, (beginning around 11:00) explains how professional hockey has prepared him for entrepreneurship. He offers an idea of what Seattle can expect from local sports tech companies in the future.

Akvelon employee, Jeremiah Mothersell, (18:39) shares why he moved here from Arizona without a job in hand, and what it is like to work at a sports tech company in Seattle.

Professional hot air balloon competitor and pilot at Seattle Ballooning, Eliav Cohen, (23:58) describes how a local tech company is incidentally revolutionizing the world-wide sport of hot air ballooning.

The episode gives you a better understanding of what you can expect from Seattle’s sports tech scene and how it may further drive the growth of the city.

Today’s special episode of Seattle Growth Podcast focuses on the future of Key Arena. This issue has become more relevant as multiple groups are hoping to bring professional basketball and hockey back to Seattle. Key Arena played home to the basketball franchise Seattle Supersonics until 2008, when the team moved to Oklahoma City. In its current state, the arena does not meet the expectations of the NBA or the NHL.

There are three proposals to develop an NBA-ready arena that are being considered by City Council. Two groups have proposed to renovate Key Arena, while one group, led by Chris Hansen, is proposing to develop a sports and entertainment complex in the SODO neighborhood.

The issue is now two-fold: Which proposal will the city support for the purpose of attracting professional basketball and hockey teams?  And secondly, if Key Arena is not chosen for that purpose, what will the city do with that public asset?

In this episode, City Councilmember Rob Johnson describes the process by which the proposals will be evaluated and offers insight into the pros and cons of each.

Developer Sam Farrazaino offers an alternative vision for repurposing Key Arena should a development in SODO becomes the home of professional arena sports.

This episode gives you a better understanding of how public resources may be deployed in bringing the NBA and NHL to Seattle and in improving Seattle Center.


Episode Recap

Rob Johnson describes what Seattle Center means to the city as whole (4:45). He describes what he would like Key Arena to mean to Seattle Center and the region (5:49) and what he is looking for in the proposals (7:48). He notes his concern is “to make sure that we are not privatizing the profit and publicizing the risk.”

He describes the pros and cons of the Oak View Group proposal (9:44). He views the community partnerships and community outreach as positives. Johnson noted, “The financial elements are the pieces that are the hardest to unravel because they both require some level of public subsidies.”

One concern Johnson noted with the Oak View Group proposal is how it will affect the citizens of Seattle. “They ask for a forgiveness on the sales taxes associated with construction, which will likely save them several hundreds of millions of dollars…They may not require a direct public subsidy. By not paying that sales tax, it does have a downstream impact on the kinds of services that we can provide as a city and county.”

Johnson briefly described the memorandum of understanding the city has signed with the SoDo arena group (13:12) and then discussed the pros and cons of the Seattle Partners proposal to renovate Key Arena (14:35). “From an urban design perspective, it is a slightly better proposal the way it meets the street.” Johnson noted the transportation investment strategies as another benefit. However, the financial component is something he believes needs to be vetted properly. “The biggest piece of their financial assumptions are again that access to city bonding authority. There are some other issues that I think we need to have worked out too.”

Johnson also provides an explanation of the process by which the arena will be chosen (16:29).

As far as the timeline for an arena to be built? “Even if we were to sign on the dotted line with a Key Arena proposal before the end of the year, we are still several years away from actually being ready for the building to start construction. Whereas if were to sign on the dotted line with SoDo before the end of the year, they could start construction immediately after we sign on the dotted line.”

If the SODO proposal is approved, it appears from episode 8 of Seattle Growth Podcast that the mayor’s office believes the city can accommodate only one sports and entertainment complex. This means the city might need to find another use for its public asset. To stimulate creative thinking about alternative futures for Seattle’ Center’s Key Arena, I reached out to a Seattle Growth Podcast guest from Season 1, artist-turned-developer Sam Farrazaino.

Sam Farrazaino envisions an “arts enclave in the spirit of a Pike Place Market. Local people who are creating stuff on site.” Keeping the existing structure intact, he would “break the central part of the arena down into four different performance venues.” Using the service stations and suites, he would create spaces for photographers, painters, sculptors, and other artists. This would allow visitors to “experience the arts in the place they are made.” He argues, “we need more space for local arts to thrive.”  

Farrazaino shares what inspired the idea (32:15). He provides a rough estimate of what it would cost (37:35) and describes how the project could earn back the investment (38:10) with more specifics on how to possibly make the numbers work at 48:42.   

What could does he believe this mean to Seattle Center (42:58) and to the city (52:05)? Listen to find out.