Crime-ridden Seattle loses Nike store and multiplex cinema – as number of homeless deaths soar

Is Seattle finished? Crime-ridden woke city’s dying downtown loses flagship Nike store and multiplex cinema – as number of homeless people killed in a year rockets by 122 to an all-time record record 310

Crime-ridden Seattle has lost its downtown Nike flagship store and multiplex movie theater as crime runs rampant and the number of homeless people dying soars. 

The Rain City’s downtown area suffered its latest blow on Friday when the popular Nike store, located at the corner of Sixth Avenue and Pike Street, shut its doors for good. 

Nike’s exit came right after Regal Cinemas announced it would reject the lease of the Meridian 16 multiplex located on Seventh Avenue and Pike Street. 

While Nike has yet to comment on why it’s shutting down the store after more than 26 years of service, local residents told the Seattle Times that street crime was likely among the biggest motivators for the departure. 

Overall violent crime has remained persistently high in the city, with 2022 marking the deadliest year for the homeless population in King County, which encompasses Seattle. 

The year saw 310 deaths in the homeless community, a 65 percent spike from 2021, including at least 18 homicides and 160 fentanyl-related overdoses, according to the King County Medical Examiner’s Office. 

The Nike store, which has been operating in downtown Seattle for 26 years, shut down on Friday, with a new store slated to open away from the area

The Nike store, which has been operating in downtown Seattle for 26 years, shut down on Friday, with a new store slated to open away from the area 

Also shutting down is the Regal Cinemas, located on Seventh Avenue and Pike Street

Also shutting down is the Regal Cinemas, located on Seventh Avenue and Pike Street

Vagrant deaths in Seattle are up to a record 310 in 2022, including 18 homicides

Vagrant deaths in Seattle are up to a record 310 in 2022, including 18 homicides

Shoppers in downtown Seattle were devastated as they visited the Nike store for the last time on Friday, fearing it might be the start of a new wave of exits from the city.

Richard Green – a Nike fanatic who was dressed head to toe in the brand, including socks and underwear – told the Times he was ‘heartbroken’ over the closing. 

‘I had big plans for this year,’ Green said of his shopping habits as he stared into the closing store, which had security guards watching over the mourning customers.    

With the store shuttered, residents would have to travel to the other side of Lake Washington in Bellevue Square, an hour away on public transit, to shop at a new store opening up later in 2023. 

The same is true for Regal Cinema fans, as the closest chains are located east in Bellevue or north in Thornton Place. 

Regal’s parent company, Cineworld, filed for bankruptcy in September, and the downtown Seattle theater is among the 39 listed to have their leases rejected on February 15. 

Jeffrey Rosen, a commercial real estate broker in the area, told the Times that the city is still reeling from the pandemic, which saw about 500 businesses shutter down as of 2021, according to the Seattle Downtown Association. 

Retail vacancy in the heart of downtown Seattle sits at 13.5 percent, a significant spike from less than 2 percent in 2019, the Times reports. 

‘Downtown is a mixed bag,’ Rosen said. ‘There’s some recovery going on — and there’s some folding up and going away going on as well.’

Persistently high crime hasn’t helped the recovery effort. According to the latest figures from the Seattle Police Department, 2022 was on its way to match the previous year’s figures. 

As of November 2022, police reported 285 rapes, 1,654 robberies and 3,258 aggravated assaults. 

Murder, however, was the only figure that surpassed 2021’s year-end-count, with 48 reported before 2022 was done, a 12.5 percent increase. 

And the spike appears to have also taken its toll on the city’s most vulnerable, its homeless community. 

According to the King County Medical Examiner’s Office, at least 18 homeless people were killed in 2022, and among them was Trenton Harris, 30, who was fatally shot four times in July. 

Trenton Harris, 30, was one of at least 18 homeless people in King County who was murdered in 2022. He was fatally shot four times last July

Trenton Harris, 30, was one of at least 18 homeless people in King County who was murdered in 2022. He was fatally shot four times last July 

Harris' mother, Jennife Dobbins, held a sign baring his name as people gathered at city hall to mourn all the homeless people who have died in 2022

Harris’ mother, Jennife Dobbins, held a sign baring his name as people gathered at city hall to mourn all the homeless people who have died in 2022

The city has seen a 10 percent spike in its homeless population over the last two years

The city has seen a 10 percent spike in its homeless population over the last two years 

Harris, former Boy Scout who worked in the food service industry after graduating high school, struggled with an opioid addiction and was originally believed to be among the city’s 160 overdose-related homeless deaths when someone found his body lying over a park bench. 

His mother, Jennifer Dobbins, told the Times she was devastated to learn that his death was actually a homicide, yet she still hasn’t heard any more information about his case. 

The grieving mother was one of more than 50 people who held a demonstration outside Seattle City Hall on December 21 to mourn every homeless person who died in 2022. 

Along with the murder and overdose victims, the homeless population in the county saw 78 deaths ruled as accidents, 35 as natural deaths, seven suicides, and 12 others that were still pending an explanation. 

The overall homeless death toll of 310, however, is an undercount since it relies on the Medical Examiner’s Office, which only investigates sudden, unexpected deaths. 

Michael Ramos, executive director of the Church Council of Greater Seattle who joined Dobbins during the vigil last month, urged that city to ramp up aid for the homeless community. 

‘The long emergency of homelessness keeps getting worse, not better, while politicians posture and governments plan a new initiative and housing comes with agonizing slowness,’ Ramos said at the event. 

Firefighters in Seattle have demanded the city take action after they were subjected to more than 40 violent attacks in the past four months - a string of assaults that have been largely carried out by the city's homeless population

Firefighters in Seattle have demanded the city take action after they were subjected to more than 40 violent attacks in the past four months – a string of assaults that have been largely carried out by the city’s homeless population

The attacks, which the city¿s firefighter¿s union says began in May, have seen the protectors repeatedly targeted by the intemperate down-and-outs, often while responding to fires started at the city's growing number of homeless encampments (pictured is one such site)

The attacks, which the city’s firefighter’s union says began in May, have seen the protectors repeatedly targeted by the intemperate down-and-outs, often while responding to fires started at the city’s growing number of homeless encampments (pictured is one such site)

Mayor Bruce Harrell, who ran on a campaign focused on improving public safety and increasing aid to the homeless, said his administration is working with urgency to fix Seattle. 

The city is currently working with the King County Regional Homelessness Authority to bring more people into shelters. 

Anne Martens, spokesperson for the authority, lamented that the 2022 figures for the homeless deaths were ‘preventable.’ 

She told the Times that the deaths were ‘a result of deep holes in our social safety net and an ongoing national opioid epidemic.’ 

The city hopes that by cracking down on homelessness, crime will also see a steady fall, as many incidents do involve this community. 

Over the summer, Seattle firefighters were attacked on more than 40 occasions when putting out blazes in homeless encampments. 

The attacks, which the city’s firefighter’s union says began in May, have seen the protectors repeatedly targeted by the intemperate down-and-outs, often while responding to fires started at the city’s growing number of homeless encampments. 

‘Seattle Fire Fighters are not trained or empowered to mitigate violent Individuals, and it is not conducive to our mission,’ Stuart, who has served as a Seattle firefighter since 1996, wrote in a July 26 letter to city officials. 

By the end of 2022, King County had an estimated 25,211 homeless individuals, a 10 percent spike from 2020, according to data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The county was only behind New York City and Seattle.  

Former Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan has been accused in court documents of manually deleting texts related to the lawless CHOP zone created in the city during the 2020 Black Live Matter riots

Former Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan has been accused in court documents of manually deleting texts related to the lawless CHOP zone created in the city during the 2020 Black Live Matter riots

Black Lives Matter protesters took over an area near Capitol Hill and the East Precinct in June 2020 and set up their own barriers. They originally called the area the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ), but that changed to the Capitol Hill Organized Protest, or The CHOP

Black Lives Matter protesters took over an area near Capitol Hill and the East Precinct in June 2020 and set up their own barriers. They originally called the area the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ), but that changed to the Capitol Hill Organized Protest, or The CHOP 

Much of the blame for Seattle’s current state has been levied against former Mayor Jenny Durkan, who infamously oversaw the establishment of the city’s lawless CHOP zone in 2020 amid the Black Lives Matter Movement. 

The anti-cop zone, set up in the ritzy Capitol Hill neighborhood, stood for Capitol Hill Occupied Protest, billed as a peaceful utopia free of police violence.

The area, however, quickly descended into anarchy, with one teenage boy even murdered, and stores in the area boarded up, including the now-closing Nike store.  

Local businesses watched in despair as customers stayed away for fear of violence – while Durkan vocally supported the hellish enclave. 

In response to a Donald Trump tweet condemning the area, she tweeted: ‘The Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone is not a lawless wasteland of anarchist insurrection – it is a peaceful expression of our community’s collective grief and their desire to build a better world. Given his track record, it’s not hard to believe that Trump is wrong, yet again.’ 

Business owners and residents have since filed a lawsuit against the city for its botched response, and have tacked on a suit alleging Durkan deprived the plaintiffs of ‘crucial evidence’ when it was discovered she deleted hundreds of text messages about the CHOP zone. 

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