Seattle allows additional residential or non-residential floor area beyond base height or FAR limits to be achieved in certain zones. SMC 23.58A (Incentive Provisions) is Seattle’s primary land use code chapter guiding incentive zoning (IZ). Generally, residential developers opting to seek additional floor area in IZ-eligible zones with maximum height limits < 85’ must include a small percentage of units as housing affordable to households with incomes up to 80% of AMI (rental) or 100% of AMI (ownership). Non-residential and highrise residential developers also have the option of making a cash contribution to the City for low-income housing. Twenty-five to forty percent of all additional floor area in highrise zones (> 85’) must be achieved through “non-housing” options (e.g. Landmark TDR/TDP, Open Space TDR/TDP, bonuses for on-site amenities). OH and DPD staff coordinate on permit review for IZ development projects.
Please contact Laura Hewitt Walker at (206) 684-0429 for more information.
Residential Bonus: Extra floor area above the base height limit may be achieved for residential developments in exchange for affordable housing. Developers can build affordable housing as part of their development or, in certain zones, make a contribution of approximately $15 per gross square foot to the City to fund new affordable housing. The affordable housing is intended to primarily serve Seattle’s moderate-wage workers. The Residential Bonus Program is available in moderate- and high-density zones in a number of neighborhoods.
Transferable Development Rights Potential (TDP): This option helps Seattle maintain a more variable scale of buildings in South Downtown and Multifamily Highrise zones by allowing density to be moved from one site to another. Excess development rights from a certified TDP site can be sold to developers needing residential floor area beyond a base height or floor area ratio (FAR) limit. The proceeds of TDP sales are used for preservation of priority uses. The type of TDP that can be sent or received varies by zone and may include open space TDP, Landmark TDP, and South Downtown historic TDP.
Extra non-residential floor area above the base floor area ratio (FAR) may be achieved for office, hotel or certain other developments through non-residential bonus, transferable development rights (TDR), and on-site amenities.
Non-Residential Bonus: This incentive enables developers achieve additional FAR in exchange for housing and childcare affordable to lower-wage workers. The housing and/or childcare can be provided by the developer or a cash contribution for housing and childcare facilities may be made to the City for those purposes. The non-residential bonus is currently available in certain Downtown, South Downtown and South Lake Union zones.
Transferable Development Rights (TDR): This option helps Seattle maintain a more variable scale of buildings in Downtown and South Downtown by allowing density to be moved from one site to another. Excess development rights from a certified TDR site can be sold to developers needing non-residential floor area beyond a base floor area ratio (FAR). The proceeds of TDR sales are used for preservation of priority uses. The type of TDR that can be sent or received varies by zone and may include within-block TDR, housing TDR, landmark housing TDR, DMC housing TDR, landmark TDR, South Downtown historic TDR, and open space TDR.