The departure of Elliott Bay Book Company has led to even more hand-wringing than usual about the fate of Pioneer Square, Seattle's most perpetually troubled and underperforming neighborhood. Too little parking and too many homeless people are the most frequently blamed culprits.
But if you ask some of the most successful business owners in the Square what's keeping the historic district down, they'll point to an excess of preservation mania. The passionate insistence on maintaining historic character at all costs makes attracting more residents and commercial activity into a micromanaged ordeal. Which is a shame since, as clubs like Aura are demonstrating every weekend, there is a ready market for what nightlife entrepreneurs in the Square want to offer.
In this week's cover story, Laura Onstot reports on how the Pioneer Square Preservation Board has helped to squeeze the life out of the 'hood. (Our design director, Boo Davis, did the clever cover.)