How much bigger and taller will the South Lake Union neighborhood become? It’s a major question facing Seattle city leaders, and on Friday the mayor weighed in.
A rezone of South Lake Union would clear the way for taller buildings. It’s like a game of Let’s Make a Deal and the stakes are high - up to 40 stories high.
Heights could be 40 stories just south of Denny, and on the lake, three towers at about 24 stories high.
”The most important thing is to limit the number of towers,” said Seattle Planning Director Marshall Foster. “That’s more important than the height.”
Here’s part of the deal: Seattle will allow taller buildings for developers, primarily Paul Allen’s Vulcan, the largest property owner in the neighborhood. In return, developers will provide benefits to the city.
Mayor Mike McGinn says the city will get 22,000 new jobs, hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenue, 12,000 new housing units including nearly 400 units of “affordable” housing.
Here’s what the mayor calls affordable. It would cost about $1,300 a month for a one bedroom unit in what the city defines as affordable. The mayor says it’s far less than the market rate in the neighborhood.
“If we stand still, I know who will live in this city,” said McGinn, “only people with the most money. We need to accommodate everybody.”
Critics say the deal will cuts views to hundreds of Seattle residents.
“It will block views of the Space Needle for people on Capitol Hill,” said Peter Steinbrueck, a lobbyist for opponents of the plan. “It will also blocks views of the lake.”
Under the plan, Vulcan may give the city nearly half an acre of property for social services and possibly a downtown school.