Monthly Staff Feature: Chris Woodward, Alliance for Pioneer Square Business Development Director

As Business Development Director at the Alliance for Pioneer Square, Chris implements the Alliance for Pioneer Square’s business development strategy by creating strong relationships and finding innovative approaches to amplify the neighborhood’s ethos.

Chris shares his thoughts and feelings heading into this year.

What are some initial thoughts/feelings going into this year? Are there any lessons learned in your professional life this past year that you are taking with you into 2022?

I remain cautiously optimistic as we progress into 2022. Despite the current high COVID case rates due to the Omicron variant, 2022 will undoubtedly continue to see additional economic recovery signals within Pioneer Square and the greater Seattle area. I expect to see an increase in local/out-of-state visitors experiencing all that Pioneer Square has to offer, while the upper floor office worker population returns to their workspaces. I do not foresee our foot traffic numbers returning to pre-pandemic levels seen in 2019 quite yet, however the past two years have underscored the need to be patient as life slowly returns to normal.  

What new developments are you most excited about in this first half of the year in Pioneer Square? Any positive markers for the future of the neighborhood so far?

I am excited to see two projects come to fruition early this year- Chief Seattle Club’s ʔálʔal (“Home” in Lushootseed) building and citizenM Pioneer Square. These two projects highlight the converging uses and interest of Pioneer Square. Both projects provide shelter for individuals- be that travelers or Chief Seattle Club members. Moreover, aesthetically, both projects beautify their respective corners of the neighborhood with unique art adorning their facades.

In your opinion, how does the Alliance continue to drive neighborhood recovery? What strategies are you hoping to explore in that regard?

The Alliance remains committed to our mission to support Pioneer Square through our five key program areas in alignment with both our 2025 and COVID-19 recovery response plan. Each program uniquely facilitates a healthy neighborhood. While the pandemic recovery is top of mind for myself and the rest of the Alliance team, maintaining a focus on the long term development of the neighborhood is also key. Pioneer Square will look drastically different in 5-10 years resulting from the numerous private and public investments occurring within the district. 

With the Alliance still following a hybrid work schedule, what do you appreciate most about being in the neighborhood during your in-office days?

I find so much inspiration from working in the neighborhood. The inspiration begins with my bike commute in from the Central District where the C-ID begins to blend with our neighborhood and our historic architecture begins to become more prominent. Next, I feel inspired by the opportunity to engage with my colleagues and check in with them about their day. Finally, and most robustly, the most inspiration comes from the happenings of being in and experiencing our shared physical space- greeting neighbors, having conversations, and shopping locally. 

On a more personal note, what are you spending time on outside the office that brings you joy these days? 

I am a self described jazz head, with a fairly extensive vinyl collection (1000+ and still adding). So, when I am outside of the office, essentially every evening, I put on a recently acquired or LP from the shelf- which is my jazz oasis. Sitting down, intentionally listening to the music, reading the liner notes, and cataloging the record provides my daily dose of afterwork joy.

Recently, I picked up the recent release of John Coltrane’s live ‘A Love Supreme: Live in Seattle’ recorded at The Penthouse in October of 1965. I knew about The Penthouse (once located at 1st and Cherry) from a previous live Coltrane release (‘Live in Seattle’) which was captured during the same club stint that produced ‘A Love Supreme: Live in Seattle.’ However, the recent release’s liner notes detail the venue in more detail. While reading more about the recording and The Penthouse I was once again reminded of how special Pioneer Square is to the cultural history of Seattle.