SEATTLE -- Housing advocates and community groups made their desires heard at the City Council chambers regarding the proposed redevelopment of Yesler Terrace, an aging public housing project on Seattle's First Hill.
Some of the buildings are 71 years old and have reached the end of their useful lives. Currently about 1,200 people live in 561 units. The city plans to redevelop these 38 acres around a large public park. It will include up to 13 high rise towers up to 25 stories high. The plan calls for 4,500 mixed-income housing units, eight times the number of units on site.
Housing advocates criticize the Seattle Housing Authority for only replacing 420 of the 561 current units of low income housing. Others question the city's plan to sell 43% of the acreage to developers to build market-rate housing, retail and office space.
"There are not enough units for extremely low income people, not even remotely enough," said Bruce Bowden of Citizens ReThink Yesler. "And the financing is 'iffy.' We don't think they should sell the land. There's another way to finance it."
Ruel Walker, an 18-year-old gardener at Yesler Terrace, had two concerns.
"Where are the people and community going to go during construction? And what's going to happen to all their gardens that they've grown and created? It's a lot of hard work."
Quynh Pham of Friends of Little Saigon said Vietnamese-owned businesses and organizations fear the development will drive up commercial rents.
"We are asking for a mixed use development that looks at affordable commercial space and affordable housing," she said. "We also want a Vietnamese Cultural Center because this is a vital cultural center for our community."