Thursday, June 25, 2015

Downtown is a donut hole filled with subsidized housing (according to the maps). How'd we get to this point?

Here's my donut hole of Olympia population post from a little while back. I observed:
Density is good. People living downtown is good. More people living in a dense neighborhood means fewer cars, more people walking and more services and good things downtown.
There might not be a lot of people living downtown compared to other parts of the city, but take a look at this map that Brian Hovis put together this week:

Hovis writes:
The highest concentration were in downtown Olympia and west Olympia. There are two different reasons. In downtown Olympia there are lots of sites in close proximity. In west Olympia the sites are fewer, but there are more units.

The density in west Olympia may increase soon. A new subsidized housing site is being planned near Yauger Park. The Copper Trails Apartments will add 260 more units to west Olympia, according to data from The Department of Commerce. Also recently reported in The Olympian there are proposals for new subsidized housing for the Drexel House and conversion of the Holly Motel.

Also in flux is whether or not the Boardwalk apartments will continue to be subsidized housing for seniors. The Boardwalk apartments are a big part of the density of subsidized housing downtown. The outcome of that question may change the density of subsidized housing in Olympia.
Brian is pointing out something here that we have pretty much accepted around here as true, but seeing it in maps is really pretty cool.

I'm wondering about the history of this phenomena. If there's anything to understand about the apparent emptying out of downtown as a residential neighborhood. And, if the replacement of what we call market rate housing now with subsidized housing has any particular historical narrative.

Downtown Olympia obviously went through a transition in the late 70s and early 80s. I'm wondering if the mix of housing also shifted during those years and what forces were at hand.

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