FILE – Downtown Seattle

In this March 6, 2020 photo, bus, bike, pedestrian and car traffic is light on Pike St. in downtown Seattle at 5:20 pm during the Friday evening commute. Many of the region's big employers, including Microsoft and Amazon, have started asking workers to stay home and work remotely, and while the closures may help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, it also throws restaurants, shops and hotels into uncertainty. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

(The Center Square) – A string of companies located in Downtown Seattle are leaving the area as the city continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Nike store located in the downtown district promptly shut down on Jan. 20, Amazon is vacating its downtown Seattle tower in April and the Regal Cinema theater is closing in February as a result of the parent company’s bankruptcy filing.

Nike will transfer its downtown location to Bellevue Square in Downtown Bellevue, according to permit records. The storefront has been located on the corner of 6th Avenue and Pike Street since 1996.

Amazon is not renewing its lease for its occupancy of the West 8th Tower, which is a block away from the company’s headquarters.

“We are always evaluating our office footprint and have decided to let go of Port 99 at the conclusion of the lease this April,” Amazon Spokesperson Zack Goldsztejn said to The Center Square in an email. “This change is a result of the new way our employees work.”

Goldsztejn added that about 2,000 employees will be moved into available spaces the company currently has across its Puget Sound headquarters.

Regal Cinemas announced its plans to file for bankruptcy and close 39 cinemas across the U.S., including its theater in Downtown Seattle next month. The move is expected to save Regal’s parent company Cineworld $22 million annually, according to its bankruptcy court documents.

The Downtown Seattle Association’s economic recovery report has the latest return to office rate for the downtown area at 32% in January. That rate is based on a week in 2019 prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Director of Media Relations at the Downtown Seattle Association James Sido is optimistic that more businesses will open up in the area.

“For several years, retailers have been evaluating changing needs for space and scale. We’ve seen that in urban areas since before the pandemic,” Sido said to The Center Square in an email. “We are excited about several newcomers who have opened their doors in recent months with more on the way. To help foster their success we need to ensure a safe and welcoming environment, something that’s been improving in [Downtown Seattle] and is top of mind for our city leaders.” 

Sido added that the association is “thrilled to have the new Convention Center Summit building open,” because it could potentially bring more activity, visitors and foot traffic to the downtown area. 

Total foot traffic in the downtown area was as high as 88% of an equivalent week in 2019 on Christmas day last year. That has since dropped to its latest rate of 72% at the start of January.

The University of Toronto records downtown recovery for all major cities in the U.S. and Canada. Seattle ranks 56 out of 62 with a recovery rate of 44%. The city with the highest recovery rate was Salt Lake City at 135%. San Fransisco was ranked last at a recovery rate of 31%.

Staff Reporter

Spencer Pauley reports on Seattle and the King County area of Washington. He was previously an independent filmmaker and worked on "The Clinton Affair," a documentary series investigating the impeachment proceedings of former President Bill Clinton.