South Lake Union

  • Public Engagement
  • Public Review
  • Final Report
  • Council Process
  • Final Decision

What’s Happening Now?

In 2013, the City Council approved South Lake Union Urban Center zone changes that allow for increased density and greater building heights through an incentive zoning program. Our legislation is an important step for the South Lake Union neighborhood as it continues to develop as an Urban Center and a dynamic hub of economic development for Seattle and the region. The zoning changes:

  • Advance the City’s growth management strategy as set out in the Comprehensive Plan and South Lake Union Neighborhood Plan
  • Promote a neighborhood that will provide a more diverse mix of housing and employment
  • Support the continued growth of the city’s economy
  • Encourage a safe and active pedestrian environment
  • Create new infrastructure financing tools that, together with affordable housing incentives and direct City investments, will:
    • Provide the critical public infrastructure needed to support the area’s dramatic growth
    • Ensure South Lake Union remains an attractive and livable neighborhood for all who live and work there

Project Benefits

Our incentive zoning program will provide affordable housing and new infrastructure investment (investment in roads, sidewalks, and other neighborhood amenities). This will support growth of 12,000 households and 22,000 jobs over the next 20 years.

The End Result

Our proposed legislation was adopted by Council on May 6, 2013.


In 2004, the Seattle City Council designated the South Lake Union Neighborhood as one of the City’s six Urban Centers. This designation reflected the recent growth in both jobs and housing in the neighborhood and signified that South Lake Union will continue to receive a regionally significant share of growth in the future. Since 2004, we have updated the South Lake Union Neighborhood Plan, worked with the community to develop the South Lake Union Urban Design Framework, and developed an incentive zoning ordinance that was adopted by the City Council in 2013.

Through the incentive zoning program, projects may gain extra floor area or height by providing affordable housing and participating in a regional transfer of development rights program. This program will provide capacity for up to 12,000 households and 22,000 new jobs over the next 20 years. This program is expected to generate approximately $45 million for affordable housing and $27 million in new infrastructure investments, and will preserve 25,000 acres of rural farm and forest land over the next 25 years.

2013 Schedule

Landscape Conservation and Local Infrastructure Program

  • July 8
    Legislation Introduced to Council
  • July 10
    Seattle Council PLUS Committee Discussion
  • July 23 or 30
    King County Council Budget Committee Discussion
  • August 14
    Seattle Council PLUS Committee Hearing
  • August 20
    King County Council Budget Committee Vote
  • August 24
    Seattle Council PLUS Committee Discussion
  • August 28
    King County Full Council Vote
  • September 11 or 19
    Seattle Council PLUS Committee Vote
  • September 16 or 23
    Seattle Council Full Council Vote