An open letter to Jeff Bezos: Help spark the creative class

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A rendering of Amazon’s proposed headquarters expansion in Seattle’s Denny Triangle neighborhood.

Congratulations on your success, Jeff Bezos!

You’ve become one of the most important innovators in the world.  You’ve matched your vision with the hard work necessary to make ideas come to fruition. You’ve aligned yourself with people equally willing to start with a dream and work hard to achieve that dream.  And now you’ve decided to forever alter Seattle’s skyline by taking three million square feet of yet-to-be-built office and warehousing space in the Denny Triangle neighborhood.

You’ve made a real estate purchase so far off the charts that there is really nothing with which to compare your vision.

And that’s why I’m writing this letter.

I’m asking you to dedicate — set-aside one percent of your future real estate development holdings for artist studios, workshops, daycare centers, immigrant startup businesses and business accelerators.

Think of it, Jeff?

bezosdoublekindleA small fraction of your vast holdings turned back to the community so that other innovators, dreamers and hard workers can get a start — a start that will not only reward you but the larger Seattle community.  (And, like your start, maybe an idea that branches out far beyond Seattle and influences the global community).

Making the idea a reality could spark other major real estate players to do the same. You can lead the way — percolating our communities with artists who can work in affordable work space, craftspeople who can relax about real estate pressures and focus instead on their hand-made specialties.

You can help satisfy the ever-present need for daycare that’s close to where one works.  Imagine the results when immigrant groceries or specialty shops get a chance to build a customer base in a Jeff Bezos-supported project.

Jeff, it can be done. It should be done. And, I believe, you’re the man to do it.

The ripple effect will spread far and wide, guaranteeing success far beyond South Lake Union and the Denny Triangle.

The spaces themselves can be left raw. They need not have the expense of finished space. Rents can be based on prevailing commercial rates or there can be a soft subsidy, possibly a percentage rent scenario.

Really, as I see it, you will  be gaining access to the much desired “creative class” at almost no charge.  Plus, your buildings will have diversity of occupation, language and income levels.  There will be the possibility of something for everyone.

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Artist Billy King

This is really a Seattle solution. The nationally-recognized and highly innovative programs developed as the one perent for Arts City of Seattle program and the 1/2 of one percent Washington State Arts Commission program were legislative authorizations.

Each program took a fixed percentage of new construction monies and bought artwork to be owned by the people of the state, county and city.

What I’m suggesting is slightly different — setting aside actual square footage instead of a percentage of the construction budget. These programs have been highly successful, rarely controversial and have continued to give back to the community over several decades.

Now is your opportunity.  Plant the seed, Jeff, and watch the acorn grow.

Billy King is a longtime Seattle and Mexico based artist known for his expressive styles.

  • Not Jeff

    Billy,

    You’re in luck! More than 1% of the room at these new buildings will be street-level retail. As an artist, you’ll be able to reserve space in these buildings at the prevailing market rate. You’ll notice that in South Lake Union, organizations already ply artisanal furniture, antiques, and even opera in and around the existing campus of Amazon. In Denny Triangle, already home to Art/Not Terminal Gallery, Eurostile Your Life, and Little Darlings, you’ll be able to nestle into a community offering all levels of artistic pursuit.

    Can’t wait to see you in the D.T.!

    Love,

    Not Jeff

  • Bill D

    What is an “immigrant startup business?”

    • billy king

      Import stores, grocery stores, specialty restaurants, import shops, etc. ESL usually a part of the scene.

  • Lulu James

    Bezos has done a lot already for the creative class via low cost web hosting. But Amazon has technical and scale advantages there that it does have in real estate development.