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City of Seattle

November 30, 4:10 PM click here to comment > 5

Mayor McGinn updates public on details of South Lake Union proposal

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, Seattle Planning Director Marshall Foster, Planning Commission Chair David Cutler, Morgan Shook and city staff met with the media to discuss the continuing success of the South Lake Union neighborhood, and to underscore the benefits of the proposed zoning changes for the area. The proposal is currently before Council, the culmination of nearly ten years of community planning and extensive public discussion.

“Great neighborhoods make for successful cities,” said McGinn. “Just north of downtown, South Lake Union is a great neighborhood for creating innovative new jobs and housing. The zoning proposals before Council will allow us to leverage private investment in the area to provide more affordable housing, improve local infrastructure and provide other public benefits that serve Seattle residents, visitors and the South Lake Union neighborhood.”

The proposal includes greater height and development capacity for much of South Lake Union, but excludes most of the Cascade area, a long-standing residential enclave in the eastern portion of the neighborhood. Some of the elements of the proposal include:

  • Rezoning Industrial (IC) zoned properties to Seattle Mixed (SM)
  • Establishing new development standards to ensure towers are well-spaced and floor plates are limited to preserve openness to the sky and public views through the neighborhood
  • Ensuring active public spaces through well-designed ground floor retail along key streets, façade transparency and parking standards, and pedestrian pass-throughs on large blocks
  • Strengthening incentives to preserve landmark properties and existing open space
  • Significant public benefits for height and size beyond new baselines:
    • Saving up to 25,000 acres of farm and forest lands in King County,
    • $28M for infrastructure improvements in South Lake Union and downtown Seattle
    • $45M for affordable housing

Investments in South Lake Union include:

  • Lake Union Park
  • Improved Cascade Park
  • South Lake Union Streetcar
  • Mercer Corridor improvements

“Seattle is fortunate to have such growth potential literally on its doorstep,” said Councilman Richard Conlin.  “New jobs, housing, small businesses close to our urban center – these are things most cities dream of creating.  We’re actually doing it, and at a great pace.  Let’s keep our eye on the ball and complete this important zoning change.”

Recent growth in South Lake Union:

  • 8,500 new jobs since 1995
  • 3,000 new residents have moved to South Lake Union since 1990
  • 12.5 million square feet of multi-family, office, biotech and retail space developed
  • $155M in city revenue generated through 2011

With the proposed rezoning, the City expects by 2031:

  • 12,000 new housing units
  • 22,000 additional jobs
  • $45M in new funding for affordable housing in the area (approximately 400 units)
  • $28M in new funding for local infrastructure improvements
  • $25,000 acres of rural farms and forests preserved through the proposed regional TDR program
  • $378M in City property tax from new development by 2035
  • $131M in County property tax from new development by 2035

To learn more about the SLU project, please visit:

Posted by: Robert Cruickshank


Comment from Kelly
Time November 30, 2012 at 5:25 pm

The mayor said, “Just north of downtown, South Lake Union is a great neighborhood…”

What? Who, besides the mayor and his development buddies think that South Lake Union is a “great neighborhood”?

That’s almost laughable if it weren’t so tragic. It’s SO transparently clear the Mayor McGinn is in bed with Culter and Paul Allen, who shamefully have done NOTHING for low income or the homeless, while building more and more completely unnecessary apartments and condos that will do nothing but further crowd an already overcrowded area, and completely destroy the views that so many surrounding neighborhoods enjoy.

If this is passed, McGinn will go down in history as one of the worst mayors in Seattle history.

We’re not that dumb Mike.

Comment from Hank Williams
Time December 6, 2012 at 3:18 pm

I work in South Lake Union and think it’s a great neighborhood 😀

The low income can move further out of the city if they are unable to afford to live in the city, being able to live in an expensive apartment is not a right.

I don’t even know where to start with the rest of Kelly’s comment, it just makes me sad that some people are that misguided.

Mike, I enjoy the job you’ve been doing the last few months.

Comment from Ty
Time December 6, 2012 at 7:44 pm

Congrats, Mayor McBeardface. You economic recovery plan is choking the Seattle skyline with apartments and condos no one will rent or buy. You ‘Road Diet’ has done the impossible: made Seattle traffic worse. The OPA has let the police run roughshod over the citizenry with no accountability and now you’ve removed Paul Allen’s flaccid manhood from your mouth long enough to order a staffer to pat you on the back for creating 8500 jobs in SLU since when? 1995. This is laughable. SLU is not a neighborhood is it an obstruction to avoid ON THE WAY to a neighborhood. While we’re at it: Why not use your projections out to 2031 to fund the refurbishment of the sea wall?

Please, can we elect Paul Schell again?

Comment from Bridget
Time December 6, 2012 at 9:45 pm

Please, please, please do NOT raise the height limits!

Comment from Marie
Time December 7, 2012 at 12:49 pm

I’ve been following the “progress” of the South Lake Union area while temporarily living in another state because of the abysmal employment situation in Seattle. Mayor “McWorse” pats himself on the back for creating 8,500 jobs in almost 18 years, and that’s a milestone? The 400 low-income housing units are supposed to be an impressive number? But I guess if you go by Hank Williams standards, then why should we be surprised? “The low income can move further out of the city if they are unable to afford to live in the city, being able to live in an expensive apartment is not a right.” What a selfish, non-sensical, peevish comment!

I thought I had lived a good life by economic standards while living almost my entire life in Seattle, until I unexpectedly fell on hard times, and had to live in low-income housing, while knowing that our mayor did not give a rip about my safety (and others like me) nor my drive and desire to pull myself back up to middle-class standards. Why should he? He’s too busy building high-rises, unaffordable apartments and condos, and obsessing over bike lanes rather than undoing car traffic gridlock (how can Seattle forget about his continual fight over the new tunnel). I guess these are much more important than making Seattle a truly livable city for everyone, not just for a precious few.