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September 14, 2016

Mayor unveils upzone proposal for U District

Journal staff reporter

Image courtesy city of Seattle [enlarge]
The mayor’s office released this map of the proposal.

Mayor Ed Murray has unveiled his plan for a major rezone in the University District that has been five years in the making.

Seattle City Council hearings come next and there could be a vote on the measure early next year.

In the core of the U District, centered on Northeast 45th Street and University Way Northeast, mixed-use buildings would be allowed up to 320 feet in height. This area will be served by a new light-rail station and an extension of the line to Northgate, set to open in 2021.

Other new proposed zoning would permit residential towers to 75 feet in the quadrant north of Northeast 40th Street and west of Eighth Avenue Northeast. In general, buildings could get much taller west of the UW campus.

Small pockets of upzoning for both commercial and residential are also proposed on the south side of Northeast Ravenna Boulevard and north of Northeast 50th Street.

All the mayor's proposed changes are within the designated urban village boundary. That area lies roughly east of Interstate 5, south of Ravenna, north of Portage Bay, and west of Montlake Boulevard and Northeast Blakeley Street.

Incentives and amenities in the U District Urban Design Framework include up to 990 units of affordable housing, new parklands and open space, historic preservation, more bike lanes and a new YMCA.

Developers would also face new design standards affecting building setbacks and tower separation, mandated open space, street frontage and pedestrian-oriented measures. But they would be able to buy and transfer development rights from the owners of small, historic buildings.

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