High-speed Internet, lower parking rates coming to Pioneer Square

High-speed Internet, lower parking rates coming to Pioneer Square
SEATTLE -- The mayor has laid out a recovery strategy to help revitalize the historic Pioneer Square neighborhood.

The idea is to attract more residents to the area that's home to great architecture, history, and restaurants.

Pioneer Square does has had a few things working against it, including new higher parking rates and no reliable high-speed Internet access. But that's about to change.

Theresa Olstad owns a hair salon in the heart of Pioneer Square, and has watched her neighbors slip away.

"You can see across the street, there's a for-lease sign or buildings just looking like it's half empty. Kind of gives you a ghost feeling," she said.

On Wednesday Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn announced Comcast cable will use the city's underground conduit to provide broadband starting in September.

"What we're seeing is Pioneer Square is becoming a choice place for new technology companies to locate," said Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn.

Olstad blames new parking rates for driving away customers.

"It's keeping people that drive cars from coming down to Seattle," she said.

But that, too, will change as the city is altering the boundaries of Pioneer Square that were used to outline parking rates. That means 20 pay stations in the area will drop their rate from $4 an hour to $3.50.

Olstad isn't too impressed.

"So they're going to lower it 50 cents. That's not very significant. Try harder," she said.

The people promoting this neighborhood say its perception is more negative than its reality

The neighborhood was known for art and rugs -- items that took a hit in the recession, but now offer a vibrant reason to return.