Seattle Offers City Planners More than Coffee: 12 Ways to Revitalize Downtown

Posted on June 14, 2004 | Type: Press Release
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PHOENIX-Seattle's privately-led downtown revitalization project boosted taxable sales 15.8 percent, double the previous average growth rate, and put Seattle at the top of the rankings for retail, dining, and entertainment. One of the nation's most successful redevelopment projects, Seattle's Pacific Place redeveloped three city blocks and created more than one million square feet of new retail space without resorting to eminent domain.

A new Goldwater Institute report examining Seattle's redevelopment casts doubt on claims that downtown refurbishment requires government control and eminent domain. In fact, taking private property from one private party and transferring it to another private party for a private use was ruled unconstitutional by the Arizona Court of Appeals in the landmark Bailey v. Myers case. The Goldwater report recommends alternatives including escalating leases, limited partnerships, and land swaps as promising redevelopment tools that respect property rights.

Study author Mark Brnovich stated, "Seattle's experience demonstrates that areas can be renovated and developed through traditional business agreements and don't need to invoke eminent domain. Taking a property owner's brake shop or barber shop because another party has a 'better' use for it violates fundamental constitutional principles, creates uncertainty about property rights, and can deter individuals from opening or expanding their businesses."

The Goldwater Institute report, Condemning Condemnation: Alternatives to Eminent Domain, is available online here.


Mark Brnovich, Director, Goldwater Institute Center for Constitutional Government, (602) 462-5000 x 232,

Andrea Woodmansee, Director of Communications, Goldwater Institute, (602) 462-5000 x 226,

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