Gregory J. Nickels (former Mayor)
SUBJECT: Mayor pushes for more housing and jobs in Center City
1/6/2005 3:30:00 PM
Mayor pushes for more housing and jobs in Center City
Zoning changes will achieve affordable housing and environmental goals
SEATTLE - Mayor Greg Nickels today proposed changes to zoning that will significantly increase the number of people living in Seattle’s Center City.
"We are building a livable, walkable, 24/7 downtown and this will benefit all of Seattle," Nickels said.
The mayor’s proposal moves Seattle forward on two major policy goals: promoting affordable housing and encouraging 'smart growth' in the city and the region.
The proposal provides for a significant increase in residential units in the Center City and provides as much as $95 million in funding for affordable housing.
The proposal has major environmental benefits: reducing sprawl in the region by encouraging residential growth in the urban center where infrastructure exists; encouraging housing near transit so people can live without cars; and improving the air we breathe by reducing automobile pollution.
"Seattle is expected to grow by 100,000 people over the next 20 years. We’re working to build great new neighborhoods in the Center City to help absorb that growth and help protect our great single-family neighborhoods," said Nickels. "Our downtown will be safer with more ‘eyes and ears’ on our streets and, as we build these great new neighborhoods in the Center City, we create more jobs and economic opportunity for all."
The proposed zoning changes are the result of formal environmental process, and a series of Center City forums that drew thousands of citizens. Some of the proposals are inspired by Vancouver, B.C. and other cities with lively in-city neighborhoods. The mayor’s proposals are consistent with existing Center City neighborhood plans.
The mayor today released the final environmental impact statement (FEIS) for making significant changes to land use requirements for the Commercial Core, Denny Triangle, and portions of Belltown. The changes also encourage concentration of new office development in the commercial core, with mixed-use and residential development emphasized in adjacent blocks.
Concentrating growth in Center City is viewed by environmentalists as a fundamental tool for fighting sprawl.
"By far the most important thing that Seattle can do for sustainability is grow dense, mixed-use neighborhoods -more on the Vancouver scale than anything we’ve envisioned so far," said Alan Durning, head of Northwest Environment Watch.
The zoning changes are intended to spur more contributions to affordable housing by developers in exchange for increased height and density. It is projected that by 2020, through housing bonuses used to increase floor area in commercial development, the new proposal could produce as much as $95 million in housing funds, $35 million more than the current code is projected to produce. Currently, only commercial development makes such contributions. Under the proposal, for the first time, housing developers who seek increased height and density will also contribute to affordable housing.
Taller residential towers would narrow as they rise, creating a more diverse and open skyline than current code allows. Height and density would increase in most of the affected areas, with the greatest height, in portions of the Commercial Core, rising from the current maximum of 540 feet to 700 feet. Seattle’s tallest building, built under 1980’s code, is more than 900 feet in height.
A public meeting to discuss the preferred alternative in the FEIS will be held January 13th at City Hall.
January 13th 6:30 -8:30pm (Discussion starts at 7:00 pm)
City Hall, Bertha Landes Room
600 Fourth Avenue, (entrance on Fifth Ave.)
The FEIS will be distributed to Center City libraries and neighborhood service centers. Limited copies will be available from the Department of Planning and Development. The FEIS and related materials are also available at the following online address: http://www.seattle.gov/dpd/Planning/Downtown_Zoning_Changes/default.asp
For information about the public meeting:Kristin Moore 615-1486 firstname.lastname@example.org