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Uptown rezone passes City Council

The rezone increases building height, adds housing affordability requirements, and encourages arts development

SIFF Cinema Uptown. Joe Wolf/Flickr

Uptown (or lower Queen Anne, depending on your name preference) is the latest Seattle neighborhood to experience a rezone for mandatory housing affordability (MHA).

“One of the things that’s really unique about the Uptown neighborhood is how much we heard from people about wanting more affordable housing,” said city councilor Rob Johnson in council chambers today. “Particularly affordable housing for the arts community.”

Like with other neighborhood rezones recommended by HALA, the measure would trade building height for affordable housing. Developers would have the option of either paying into a city fund or including the housing in the development.

Most height increases are relatively small, although maximum building heights will more than double—from 40 feet to 85 feet—in a thin area just north of the Seattle Center. The biggest heights would be allowed in the southeast corner of the neighborhood near South Lake Union, where building height limits would go from 85 feet to up to 160 feet.

In exchange, in the highest areas, residential projects would need to be made up of 7 to 10 percent affordable units, or developers would have to pay between $20.75 and $29.75 per square foot. For commercial buildings, the requirement would be 5 to 10 percent of units, or $8.00 to $29.75 per square foot.

In addition to creating requirements for affordable housing, the legislation incentivizes theaters, arts spaces, and schools.

Two companion bills covered things that can’t be addressed by zoning. One declares an “intent to support the growth and livability of the Uptown Urban Center.” The other declares Uptown as an arts and cultural district, the third such district in Seattle along with the Central Area and Capitol Hill.

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