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City of Seattle
Gregory J. Nickels (former Mayor)

SUBJECT: Mayor signs historic bill for livable, affordable Center City

4/12/2006  10:15:00 AM

Mayor signs historic bill for livable, affordable Center City
Zoning changes will create jobs, housing &
opportunity in the heart of Seattle

SEATTLE - Mayor Greg Nickels today signed legislation he introduced a year ago to shape the future of Seattle’s greater downtown area and set a new direction for dealing with the significant growth. The legislation will contribute more than $100 million to affordable housing, making the downtown area more livable for workers and families. The mayor’s Center City legislation passed the Seattle City Council unanimously last week.

The mayor was joined at the bill signing ceremony by City Council members, environmental activists and downtown residents.

The legislation encourages more housing immediately adjacent to the traditional downtown commercial core, and increases the capacity of the area for new jobs by allowing for more commercial development. 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.

“The debate is no longer about how tall our downtown grows; it’s about how well we grow as a city,” Nickels said. “These changes will help shape the economic heart of this region, by creating affordable housing and livable urban neighborhoods. I want to thank the City Council for its thoughtful review and refinements. Together we’ve put together a plan that will truly make a difference in the lives of thousands of Seattle residents.”

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 Center City Strategy will spur more contributions to affordable housing by providing incentives to build housing units. For the first time, market-rate housing developers who seek bonuses will also contribute to affordable housing.

By concentrating growth in the urban center, where infrastructure exists, Seattle can help slow urban sprawl in the region. A single 130-unit building downtown is the equivalent of 32 acres in a typical suburban development. Traffic will be reduced by locating housing within walking distance to jobs and buses so people can commute without cars - a major step in Seattle’s effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 7 percent compared to 1990 levels.

“By living within walking distance of work, buses, light rail and the streetcar, people’s transportation choice won’t be which car to drive; it will be which color shoes to wear,” Nickels said. “These changes will help Seattle reach our goal of being a leader in the battle against global warming.”

The new regulations 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:

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

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Office of the Mayor

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