Low Income Housing at Pike Place Market

On June 7, 1977, the Public Safety and Judiciary Committee discussed the possibilities of using Stewart House, near the Pike Place Market, for low income housing. The building was approached from safety and preservation perspectives. Neighbor and owner of Sur la Table, Shirley Collins, spoke about the individuals who lived in the building before it was closed temporarily.

Shirley Collins: I would just like to tell the Council...

Councilmember Randy Revelle: Would you please identify yourself?

Shirley Collins: Oh, I'm sorry. My name is Shirley Collins and I have a retail store at the Market located to the west side just past the current little three-foot thing to the Stewart House and I've been there for five years. And those people have been my neighbors and I thought you might want to know who the kinds of people that live there. Because in Harriet's presentation she did address, did raise the question that well, you know, we have to decide how much, you know, how much longer that kind of use will be important to the City and so forth.

The people that live there are for the most part retired. They are loggers and so forth that didn't have a place to live as a permanent home. Usually they were single...and didn't have cars or possessions and so they moved into these little tiny places to live. And they were happy there at the Market because they didn't have a car and they could shop and cook on their little gas burner and they had their own little community there. They are very nice people for the most part, at least the ones I knew. And I miss them all.

There's another kind of person that lives there, or did rather until last month when it was closed, and that was the longshoremen from down on the docks and they can walk to work, and it's low income. They could afford to live in that area and come and go. There's people that live off, who are merchant marines, who go around on ships so they're close.

And I think there's always going to be that kind of person around. I think it's very important and it's part of the Market. They support the farmers in the Market...there's a lot of different parts to the Market and this is a very integral part. There's a lot of things that just sort of attach themselves to the Market, but low income housing has always been a very big major part of the Market. And I just think it is very important to preserve that use. And I don't see how you can really replace that building with other housing and keep the rents low enough to provide this kind of housing for these people.

Those interested in more information can listen to the entire meeting; note, however, that the beginning of the meeting was not recorded.

Citation: Public Safety and Judiciary Committee meeting, June 7, 1977. Event ID 4085, Seattle City Council Legislative Department Audio Recordings. Other resources include: Comptroller File 284828 and boxes 96 and 162 of Record Series 1628-01, Department of Community Development Pike Place Market Records.