University District Upzoning News

The Seattle City Council is debating the Mayor’s proposed upzone for the University District. The rezone will direct growth to the blocks near the Sound Transit (opening in 2021) and the UW campus. Heights for some residential projects may exceed 320’ at the core and transition down to 30’ in residential zones. Five thousand (5,000) new market rate units are anticipated in addition to approximately 600-900 subsidized units.

Some are encouraging the council to adopt the upzone package as a critical measure to address the housing supply crisis and prudent complement to the region’s tremendous investment in light rail. The University District has suffered for many years with struggling retail, crime and declining housing quality throughout much of the district. Additional features of the upzone include new planned open spaces, preservation of historic buildings, and building design standards to promote an attractive and welcoming streetscape.

The upzone proposal is controversial. Many residents of the University District and nearby neighborhoods oppose increase heights and densities over concern that there will be a loss of existing affordable units and related displacement. Some are calling for a significant increase in the percentage of subsidized units required if a project is to take advantage of increased height allowances.  Excessive subsidy requirements will chill or kill needed projects, or make the market-rate units unaffordable to middle-income earners now struggling to find housing within the city.

The upzone is a part of the HALA Grand Bargain which through upzones throughout Seattle will bring 50,000 homes, including preservation and production of 20,000 net new affordable homes, over the next 10 years. HALA implementation is important and going on now. Visit this site for more information please visit: https://hala.consider.it/

From the Seattle King County Realtors Association

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