South Downtown

Project Outcomes

On April 15, 2011, Seattle City Council approved an amendment to the Land Use Code that will increase density in the South Downtown neighborhoods. The approved council bill also:

  • Strengthens historic preservation rules
  • Creates new open spaces
  • Improves building form
  • Improves street designs
  • Supports small businesses

The new rules were effective June 1, 2011.

Key Milestones

Public Involvement

  • We held over 140 meetings between August 2004 and November 2009.
  • Hundreds of members of the public attended the meetings.

Land Use Recommendations

  • December 2009 — We transmitted the Final Executive Recommendations to City Council
  • May 2009 — Open House for North Lot Land Use Code Amendment
  • September 2009 — City Council approved the North Lot Land Use Code amendment

Environmental Impact Statement

  • May 2008 — We published the final environmental impact statement (EIS)
  • December 2007 — Public comments and public hearing on the EIS
  • November 2007 — We released the draft EIS
  • January – October 2007 — We conducted studies for the EIS on housing, transportation, noise, historic and cultural resources, urban design, small business, real estate economic conditions, and potential earthquake losses
  • May – November 2006 — We conducted scoping for the EIS

Phase 1 Milestones

  • 2005 – 2007 — An advisory group of 25 stakeholders met 14 times
  • March 2006 — We released the Phase 1 staff report
  • March 2006 — We held an open house at City Hall
  • January 2006 — We published the background report
  • September 2005 — We held an open house at the International District / Chinatown Community Center

Project Purpose

In 2003, we began a planning effort to take advantage of opportunities raised through future growth in the South Downtown neighborhoods. By carefully shaping South Downtown's growth, we can make the area a better place to live, attract more business, and community activities while preserving the character of the area.

South Downtown has a mix of industrial activity, small businesses, residences, human services, and regional transportation facilities. The area anchors the south end of the Downtown business and government community. South Downtown neighborhoods were identified by then Mayor Nickels as key locations for increasing housing and creating economic growth.

There are five neighborhoods within the South Downtown planning area:

  • Pioneer Square
  • Chinatown / International District west of I-5
  • Little Saigon east of I-5 to Rainier Avenue S.
  • The industrial area south of Chinatown, west of I-5 and north of I-90
  • The area around the stadiums along 1st Avenue S. to S. Holgate Street

By 2025, the Pioneer Square and Chinatown/I.D. neighborhoods are expected to gain approximately 5,500 new jobs and 2,000 new housing units. The South Downtown industrial area outside downtown will get about 200 new jobs to help achieve the Duwamish Manufacturing and Industrial Center's job growth targets. These "growth targets" were determined through the City's comprehensive planning processes to distribute growth projected by the Puget Sound Regional Council. These targets help ensure that growth is properly allocated throughout Seattle. The area's zoning pattern helps determine how much development capacity is available.

Final Documents

Planning Study

Urban Design

Environmental Impact Statement


Planning and Community Development

Rico Quirindongo, Director
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 94788, Seattle, WA, 98124-7088
Phone: (206) 386-1010

The Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD) develops policies and plans for an equitable and sustainable future. We partner with neighborhoods, businesses, agencies and others to bring about positive change and coordinate investments for our Seattle communities.