'Upzone for Uptown': Taller buildings now allowed in Lower Queen Anne

Taller buildings will be allowed in the Lower Queen Anne neighborhood after mayor Tim Burgess signed a new law Wednesday. (KOMO News)

SEATTLE -- Some views of Seattle could be changing now.

Mayor Tim Burgess signed a law Wednesday that will allow developers to build taller buildings in the Lower Queen Anne neighborhood.

In exchange, the new law requires developers to build mixed use - commercial on the bottom and residential on the top, and provide rent restricted units or pay into a city fund used to build affordable housing.

Seattle is under tremendous pressure to create affordable housing because of its unprecedented growth. The city is systematically focusing on neighborhoods to create more affordable housing.

So far, five cities have been rezoned to add more people, more density and to build upward.

It is Seattle's new way, Burgess said.

"A way that we hope will be a model for all Seattle's neighbors," the new mayor said.

Now, it is Uptown's turn, the area often called Lower Queen Anne that surrounds Seattle Center.

The law signed Wednesday will allow building heights to go from 40 to 65 feet in the urban core, and up to 160 feet, or 16 stories, closer to Lake Union.

Councilman Rob Johnson said that in Lower Queen Anne, or Uptown, he expects people to continue to give up their cars as one of the lifestyle changes the city is expecting accommodate the growth.

"We think this is a good part of the city to have slightly taller buildings and more affordable options for those folks," Johnson said.

Critics of upzoning claim there's no guarantee developers will deliver on affordable units in areas like Uptown.

"The actual affordable housing is not going to be built on site. The majority of it is going to be paid in lieu so a lot of people think they are going to get affordable housing but its not going to be in the areas these zongin changeso are occurring," said Jon Lisbin, president of Seattle Fair Growth.

Developers have 20 years to make good on their promises.

"Time will tell every developer is going to approach this project differently," Johnson said.

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