Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sick's Stadium, Lowe's and Rainier Valley Redevelopment

Lowe's store on Rainier Avenue, Seattle

I was in Seattle earlier this week and heard a bit of buz about a proposal to rezone the Lowe's home supply store on Rainier Avenue in the southeast part of the city. The rezone proposal is apparently coming from the city as part of a plan to increase development density in this part of the city. Large box stores are more typically seen in suburbs and freeway interchange areas on the margins of cities, but this Lowe's store is in an urban neighborhood and . This is an area of Seattle where a significant amount of redevelopment has been taking place in part because Sound Transit has built commuter rail in the area, improvements to Rainier Avenue particularly to the north of this area towards downtown and the relatively affordable homes and apartments combined with less expensive and shorter commutes. Beyond that there area a number of urban centers that that are very appealing that have redeveloped along Rainier Avenue.   

There is a concern by residents of the area about losing an important anchor store. I know from living part time in a different part of Seattle a few years ago caused me to have to adjust my shopping habits as ready access to a variety of stores was limited and getting certain items could be very time consuming driving through urban traffic.

Sick's Stadium (Seattle Archives)

In addition this site has some significant history for Seattle. The site occupied by the Lowe's store was the former site of Sick's Stadium or Sicks' Stadium depending on the year. The stadium was used for many years by Seattle's minor league baseball team and for one year was the home of a major league baseball team, the Seattle Pilots. The Seattle Pilots single season in Seattle was a disaster. The stadium was too small and had inadequate facilities. By the end of games the water pressure was so low that visiting teams had to return to their hotels to shower. In addition the weather was terrible with many drizzly, cool cloudy days that were not conducive to baseball. Jim Bouton, a pitcher for the team chronicled the season in the famous book Ball Four. Reading the book revealed lots of problems with the team.  The team failed and the next year they were in Milwaukee as the Milwaukee Brewers

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