EDITORIAL: The fire’s out, come on in!

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Originally meant to inform people that streetcar construction need not deter Chinatown visitors, these signs are just as relevant after the Christmas Eve fire. (Photo by Sue Misao/NWAW)

For most people, the Christmas Eve fire in the International District’s Hudson Building seems like a long time ago.

Last year, even. But “business as usual” is on hold for many — store and restaurant owners, employees, their families, and the owners of the building — as they wait to hear what happens next. How much will insurance cover? Will the building stand or be torn down? When and where, if ever, can the burned out businesses reopen?

Meanwhile, the rest of Chinatown is bustling along. The Greater Seattle Chinese Chamber of Commerce, whose office was on the ground floor of the building, wants you to know that the International District is open for business.

“While we are waiting anxiously to learn the fate of the building by engineers’ inspection, we are thankful that there was no casualty from the fire,” the Chamber stated in a press release. “Our sympathy and concern go to all the people and businesses that are affected.”

The Chamber also encourages everyone to come out and support the surrounding stores and restaurants.

“Our community is strong and the Seattle Chinese Chamber will join hands with other community partners to help the recovery and rebuild efforts,” stated the Chamber.

Other local groups are reaching out to those impacted by the fire. The International District Review Board is anticipating the report from structural engineers that will determine the Hudson Building’s fate, which will in turn affect the building’s historical status. “We will definitely be involved in that conversation,” said Rebecca Frestedt, board coordinator for the Columbia City Review Committee and International Special Review District. Frestedt said the first hope is that the building can be repaired and its designation as a contributing building to Chinatown’s history be retained. “If that’s not possible, then we will look at alternatives,” she said, stopping short of speculating what that might involve. “It’s an important building to the neighborhood.”

The Chinatown-International District Business Improvement Area (CIDBIA), the Seattle Chinatown-International District Preservation and Development Authority (SCIDpda), and InterIm Community Development Association are among the groups helping the burned out businesses with insurance assistance and other resources.

Other businesses on the block remain open, yet not unaffected. Pedestrian traffic is majorly disrupted by the chain link fence that wraps two sides of the building. Restaurants in particular that lost power on one of their busiest days of the year will have a tough time catching up. This would be a good time to shop or dine out at these businesses. (end)

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