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Record Residential Numbers Bolster Downtown Seattle Recovery

Seattle, Downtown Seattle Association
Photo by Samantha Sun on Unsplash

Apartment occupancy and total number of residents reaching new heights in downtown Seattle

SEATTLE (Aug. 4, 2021) Downtown Seattle residential growth is outpacing the city and the region. Sourcing  new data  from CoStar and Esri, the Downtown Seattle Association reports downtown apartment occupancy has already exceeded the previous record set in 2019, and total downtown population is now at a highwater mark of more than 98,000 residents.

Population estimates from Esri for July 1 of 2020 and 2021 show a 4.4% annual increase for downtown Seattle, compared to 1.5% for the city and 1.1% for the Puget Sound region. Over the past five years (2016-2021), the downtown population grew by 27,000 — a 38% increase. This compares to 9% growth for the same period for the region.

“Downtown’s unmatched amenities are powerful draws for people not just to work in and visit downtown, but to make it their home here and raise families,” said DSA President & CEO Jon Scholes. “We’ve seen a steady rise in the number of residents downtown over the last decade, now at nearly 100,000 people. The heart of our region’s culture, economy and recreation is also a destination for living. The  numbers bear that out.” 

While the start of the pandemic produced a loss of about 2,000 occupied apartment units downtown in the second and third quarter of 2020, things began to turn around in the fourth quarter. More than 3,300 apartment households moved downtown between October 2020 and June 2021. The second quarter of 2021 produced a near record of about 1,800 apartments newly occupied, just short of the top mark of about 2,000 move-ins during the second quarter of 2019. Developers and property managers see a downtown in demand. 

“The influx of people into downtown has been substantial in recent weeks and we’re seeing the impact at our residential buildings,” said Ed Leigh, Vice President of Investments at Equity Residential, which manages nearly a dozen properties across downtown. “Our leasing teams have been decidedly busy, and our forecast looks strong for the remainder of the year.”

And there’s more inventory on the horizon. Developers have completed or are planning to complete 6,415 new residential units downtown in 2021 and an additional 5,564 in 2022. This is the largest number of units added downtown over any two-year period on record.

About the Downtown Seattle Association (DSA) 

Established in 1958, the Downtown Seattle Association (DSA) is a nonprofit membership organization whose mission is to create a healthy, vibrant downtown. By advocating on issues including transportation, economic development and the urban experience, DSA works to ensure that downtown remains a great place to live, work, shop and play. DSA also manages the Metropolitan Improvement District, a business-improvement area spanning 285 square blocks downtown.