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Building community and creating affordable housing opportunities Steve Walker, Acting Director



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Program overview

  • Developers may use TDR to achieve extra floor area above the base floor area ratio (FAR) in certain Downtown and South Downtown zones and in South Lake Union IC zones in the area shown on Exhibit 23.50.051.A.
  • TDR helps Seattle maintain a variable scale of buildings by allowing density to be moved from one site to another.

  • Lots where low-income housing is preserved are eligible “housing TDR sites.” In DMC zones with a maximum FAR of 7 or greater, newly constructed housing may also be eligible as a “DMC housing TDR site.”

  • Other eligible TDR sites, in certain areas and zones, include those with landmark buildings, contributing structures under SMC 23.66.032, major open space or arts facilities.

  • Purchasers (developers) and sellers (owners of certified TDR) can negotiate sales directly. Or the City can purchase TDR and hold it in its “TDR Bank” for later resale.

  • All transactions, whether private or through the City, require execution and recording of a TDR Agreement between the owner of the TDR site and the City.

  • The TDR Agreement includes covenants that will run with the land (in the case of housing TDR and landmark housing TDR, 50 years of affordable housing primarily affordable to households with incomes up to 50% of median).

  • TDR are validly transferred by Statutory Warranty Deed and are recognized by the courts as real property.

Code References:

  • SMC 23.49.014: Downtown — Transfer of Development Rights
  • SMC 23.49.011: Downtown — Floor area ratio
  • SMC 23.49.017: Downtown — Open space TDR site eligibility
  • SMC 23.50.051: Industrial — Additional floor area in certain IC-zoned areas in the South Lake Union Urban Center
  • SMC 23.50.053: Industrial — Transfer of development rights within the South Lake Union Urban Center

TDR Purchase:

  • Prior to MUP issuance, commercial developer must detail for the Office of Housing how all chargeable floor area above the base FAR will be achieved.

  • Per square foot sales price for certified TDR is negotiated between buyer and seller.

  • Contact Laura Hewitt Walker, at (206) 684-0429, for more information, including the availability of housing TDR, landmark housing TDR, DMC housing TDR, landmark TDR, South Downtown historic TDR, open space TDR, and arts facility TDR.

TDR Certification and TDR Bank Inquiries:

  • Contact Laura Hewitt Walker, (206) 684-0429, for more information about Department of Planning & Development TDR certification, the Office of Housing's TDR eligibility process, and the City's TDR Bank.

  • Inquiries regarding the process for certification of open space TDR and open space TDP sites may be directed to Dennis Meier, (206) 684-8270, in the Department of Planning & Development.

  • Inquiries regarding the process for certification of landmark TDR and South Downtown Historic TDP sites may be directed to Sarah Sodt, (206) 615-1786, in the Department of Neighborhoods' Historic Preservation Office.

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