City of Seattle

Ed Murray, Mayor


SUBJECT:   Mayor McGinn updates public on details of South Lake Union proposal
11/30/2012  1:50:00 PM
Bryan Stevens, DPD, (206) 684-5045

Mayor McGinn updates public on details of South Lake Union proposal
Highlights economic success, neighborhood growth and need for zoning proposal with public benefits

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, Seattle Planning Director Marshall Foster, Planning Commission Chair David Cutler, Morgan Shook and city staff met with the media to discuss the continuing success of the South Lake Union neighborhood, and to underscore the benefits of the proposed zoning changes for the area. The proposal is currently before Council, the culmination of nearly ten years of community planning and extensive public discussion.

"Great neighborhoods make for successful cities," said McGinn. "Just north of downtown, South Lake Union is a great neighborhood for creating innovative new jobs and housing. The zoning proposals before Council will allow us to leverage private investment in the area to provide more affordable housing, improve local infrastructure and provide other public benefits that serve Seattle residents, visitors and the South Lake Union neighborhood."

The proposal includes greater height and development capacity for much of South Lake Union, but excludes most of the Cascade area, a long-standing residential enclave in the eastern portion of the neighborhood. Some of the elements of the proposal include:

  • Rezoning Industrial (IC) zoned properties to Seattle Mixed (SM)
  • Establishing new development standards to ensure towers are well-spaced and floor plates are limited to preserve openness to the sky and public views through the neighborhood
  • Ensuring active public spaces through well-designed ground floor retail along key streets, façade transparency and parking standards, and pedestrian pass-throughs on large blocks
  • Strengthening incentives to preserve landmark properties and existing open space
  • Significant public benefits for height and size beyond new baselines:
    • Saving up to 25,000 acres of farm and forest lands in King County,
    • $28M for infrastructure improvements in South Lake Union and downtown Seattle
    • $45M for affordable housing

Investments in South Lake Union include:

  • Lake Union Park
  • Improved Cascade Park
  • South Lake Union Streetcar
  • Mercer Corridor improvements

"Seattle is fortunate to have such growth potential literally on its doorstep," said Councilman Richard Conlin. "New jobs, housing, small businesses close to our urban center – these are things most cities dream of creating. We're actually doing it, and at a great pace. Let's keep our eye on the ball and complete this important zoning change."

Recent growth in South Lake Union:

  • 8,500 new jobs since 1995
  • 3,000 new residents have moved to South Lake Union since 1990
  • 12.5 million square feet of multi-family, office, biotech and retail space developed
  • $155M in city revenue generated through 2011

With the proposed rezoning, the City expects by 2031:

  • 12,000 new housing units
  • 22,000 additional jobs
  • $45M in new funding for affordable housing in the area (approximately 400 units)
  • $28M in new funding for local infrastructure improvements
  • $25,000 acres of rural farms and forests preserved through the proposed regional TDR program
  • $378M in City property tax from new development by 2035
  • $131M in County property tax from new development by 2035

To learn more about the SLU project, please visit:

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