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New Option for Large Projects

Exterior of Large Project Building Complex
We are proposing regulation changes that would give some large projects in industrial commercial zones greater development flexibility within an approved development plan.

What's Happening Now?

We have completed draft legislation to add a new Section 23.50.017 to the Land Use Code that defines an optional process to permit a development plan for some large building complexes in the Industrial Commercial (IC) zone. We have issued Environmental Review (SEPA Checklist) and Determination of Non-Significance (DNS), as well as a Director’s Report describing the proposal. The SEPA comment period has concluded. We are working to assemble the package of legislation and supporting materials for final review. We anticipate submitting this legislation in late summer or early Fall, however Council would likely not consider it until late fall or winter.

The process does not change the zoning that regulates what can be built on the site. To use this process, your project must meet minimum thresholds. Your project must be in an IC zone within the Ballard Interbay Northend Manufacturing/Industrial Center (BINMIC), and have:

  • Functionally related development (not speculative development or multiple tenants)
  • Multiple buildings that total at least 200,000 square feet
  • The first phase of at least 100,000 square feet is constructed within 5 years
  • A site is that is 5-acres or larger

Under our proposal, applicants would submit a development plan and complete a detailed environmental review. Once the development plan is approved, individual buildings consistent with the plan and environmental review could then be permitted through a simpler process (a Type I MUP decision). This process allows flexibility in the final design of your building and the activities it supports. For example, you could still get a simple review if, when it came time for construction, you decided to change the floor plan or to change a building’s use from an office to a laboratory. The development plan permit would also allow you to phase the planned development over 15 years, and extend it up to 25 years with further review and approval of our Director.

Our proposal is similar to the existing Major Phased Development process contained in the Seattle Municipal Code Section 23.50.015. A description and evaluation of our proposal can be found in the Director’s Report .

Project Benefits

Allowing more flexibility for large projects gives developers more ability to respond to market changes that can happen during the long development phase. Our proposal balances this increased flexibility with the requirement that all changes:

  • Remain within the existing zoning at the time of the initial permit
  • Meet the approved development plan
  • Do not create new significant environmental impacts

The End Result

City council will vote on our proposed legislation later this year.

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