Seattle’s Gay Capitol Hill: Dining Scene Launches Neighborhood’s Comeback

Published Date Author: , May 30th, 2011

Sitka & SpruceAnyone who visited Seattle’s Capitol Hill a decade ago could tell it was in limbo. The eclectic neighborhood, the epicenter of the city’s gay and lesbian community and home to a diverse range of ethnic dining spots, showed serious signs of tarnish. Boutiques, gift shops and bookstores were dying, and check-cashing businesses swooped in like vultures.

While Capitol Hill struggled, it was Belltown’s time to shine. The edgy neighborhood just north of downtown had become the big player on the city’s dining scene, attracting new ventures from marquee chefs. Belltown’s mix of upscale interior-design businesses and vintage furniture stores catered to all the high-rise condos going up along the Puget Sound waterfront.

But cities are fluid. Like elsewhere in the country, Seattle’s condo market collapsed in recent years, and Belltown now struggles with fast-dropping property values and a growing number of empty storefronts. On Capitol Hill, construction around Seattle Central Community College and a new transit tunnel and station have replaced run-down shops.

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