The Seattle City Council on Monday approved a long-delayed plan to redevelop unused Army land by Discovery Park into open spaces and about 240 affordable homes.
The $90 million plan updated by Mayor Jenny Durkan in February calls for the 34-acre Fort Lawton property in Magnolia to be replaced by 85 studio apartments for formerly homeless seniors, 100 rentals for l0w-income individuals and families and up to 52 affordable homes for sale.
The city would convert 6 acres into a pair of athletic fields, make 13 grassy acres available for picnicking and viewing and incorporate 4 to 5 wooded acres into Discovery Park.
The council voted unanimously to adopt an application for the federal land, rezone parts of Fort Lawton for apartments and authorize an agreement with Seattle Public Schools to possibly build and use the athletic fields.
“There is an intense need for these homes to be built, now more than ever,” Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda said.
Mosqueda’s housing committee passed an amendment requiring the parks department to reduce the amount of property devoted to a maintenance-building parking lot by 30%.
The council made no other changes to the plan advanced by the mayor, though Councilmembers Kshama Sawant and M. Lorena González said they wished the number of housing units was greater.
“We kept at it. Our compass was clear,” said Councilmember Debora Juarez, recalling her participation in a nonviolent occupation of Fort Lawton by Native American activists in 1970. “We keep marching forward.”
Monday’s actions mean the city can at last acquire the property and get started, Durkan said in a statement.
“I look forward to signing this plan into law in the coming weeks,” she said, promising the city will “continue to engage the community” along the way.
Three nonprofits — the United Indians of All Tribes Foundation, Catholic Community Services and Habitat for Humanity — would build the housing using city, state and federal funding. Seattle’s plan calls for the parcels to be transferred at no or low cost in 2020 and for construction to begin in 2021.
The city initially sought to redevelop Fort Lawton in 2008, but a lawsuit by Magnolia activist Elizabeth Campbell and the recession stymied the plan.
When the city revived the idea in 2017, Campbell sued again and other opponents argued the entire site should be added to Discovery Park.
But a Seattle administrative judge ruled against Campbell last year, and the new plan drew vocal support from community members concerned about the city’s housing crisis. Foes still could try to seek relief in a higher court.