While I don’t know if the Seattle Waterfront museum is a good idea or not, I’m quite certain Pioneer Square could use the money. The state spending money in Pioneer Square to mitigate the problems with the tunnel is perfectly reasonable. In fact, even if there was no tunnel, it wouldn’t be a bad idea for the state to take up some real estate and spend money on people down there.
After all, Pioneer Square was hit particularly hard by the recession and by Elliott Bay Books moving. Throw in the loss of 619 Western and possibly other buildings in the future as well as what construction is doing and the neighborhood is having tough times. The bars are still packed before and after a game, but for the rest of the time, it’s pretty sparce. Art walk isn’t the same. There’s nothing like Elliott Bay to draw people.
And now, hopefully the people who staff the museum and the people who use it will fill some of the void left in the wake of Elliott Bay and studio closings. They’ll go out to lunch and dinner. They’ll go to Art Walk and pick up a painting, or just make the place a little less lonely. They’ll go to concerts and have a drink after work.
Now maybe there’s a better way to achieve that than this museum. Maybe incentives for businesses and residents to move there will work better. Maybe some other thing there will spur the local economy, draw more people, or just make more sense for the community (I’d personally love to see an expansion of the Gold Rush Museum, but that’s a different pot of money). But just letting Pioneer Square languish until the economy rights itself, until Elliott Bay’s old location finds a tenant that can draw what it did, or until tunnel construction is over won’t help the area.