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City of Seattle
Gregory J. Nickels (former Mayor)

SUBJECT: Mayor puts out plan for more housing and jobs in Center City

5/11/2005  1:00:00 PM

Mayor puts out plan for more housing and jobs in Center City
Changes will achieve affordable housing and environmental goals

SEATTLE - Mayor Greg Nickels today presented his strategy to shape the future of Seattle’s greater downtown area and set a new direction for dealing with the significant growth coming to Seattle. The mayor’s proposal, called Center City Strategy, encourages more housing immediately adjacent to the traditional downtown commercial core, and increases the capacity of the area for new jobs. The changes affect the Commercial Core, Denny Triangle, and portions of Belltown, and respond to calls from the downtown neighborhoods for more housing and jobs.

“Significant growth is coming to Seattle and the region,” Nickels said. “These changes will help shape the economic heart of this region, create a livable urban neighborhood and set the stage for growth that makes sense. We are building a livable, walkable, 24/7 Center City that will benefit our entire region."

The mayor’s Center City Strategy moves Seattle forward on two major policy goals: promoting affordable housing and encouraging 'smart growth' in the city and the region. The proposal provides strong incentives for more residential units in the Center City as well as the potential for a significant increase in funding for affordable housing.

Other benefits of the mayor’s Center City Strategy include:

  • It will be good for the environment. By concentrating growth in the urban center, where infrastructure exists, Seattle can help stop urban sprawl in the region. A single 130-unit building downtown is the equivalent of 32 acres in a typical suburban development.
  • For the first time, new commercial and residential buildings will routinely comply with the basic Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating system. This is a national standard for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings.
  • It will reduce traffic by locating housing within walking distance to jobs and to buses so people can commute without cars. It will also improve the air we breathe by reducing automobile pollution.
  • It will protect our heritage. Incentives will provide more money for historic preservation.

"Seattle is expected to grow by nearly 100,000 people over the next 20 years. We’re working to build great neighborhoods in the Center City to help absorb that growth, protect our single-family neighborhoods and take advantage of the major transportation investments we are making in this area,” said Nickels. "An added benefit is that our downtown will be safer with more ‘eyes and ears’ on our streets and, as we build these great neighborhoods in the Center City, we create more jobs and economic opportunity for everyone."

The Center City Strategy will spur more contributions to affordable housing by removing obstacles to common-sense building design and by providing incentives to build housing units. The new proposal will produce tens of millions in housing funds, much more than the current code is projected to produce. For the first time, market-rate housing developers who seek bonuses will also contribute to affordable housing.

The Seattle City Council is expected to complete review of the proposal later this year.

For more information, go to the mayor's Website at

Get the mayor’s inside view on initiatives to promote transportation, public safety, economic opportunity and healthy communities by signing up for The Nickels Newsletter at

The proposed regulations and report will be distributed to Center City libraries and neighborhood service centers. Copies will be available from the Department of Planning and Development. The materials, including the environmental impact statement, are also available at the following online address:

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Office of the Mayor

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