The Seattle City Council has approved an upzone of the Uptown neighborhood, increasing maximum building heights while imposing new affordable-housing requirements on developers.

Share story

The Seattle City Council on Monday voted to allow taller buildings and impose new affordable-housing requirements on developers in Uptown, also known as Lower Queen Anne.

The neighborhood is the latest in a series to be upzoned this year after the University District, downtown and South Lake Union, some Central District intersections and the Chinatown International District.

The vote was 7-0 as the council approved the legislation initially proposed by then-Mayor Ed Murray.

The legislation will increase the maximum building heights to various degrees in different parts of the neighborhood.

Many of the changes will be relatively modest. But the maximum heights will increase from 85 to 160 feet in a pocket of land near South Lake Union and from 40 to 85 feet in a strip of land north of Seattle Center.

The taller buildings will trigger the city’s new Mandatory Housing Affordability program, which will require developers in the area to include rent-restricted apartments in their project or pay fees.

The city will use such fees to help nonprofits build rent-restricted apartments elsewhere in Uptown or in other neighborhoods.

Whether built on site or with fees, the rent-restricted apartments will need to be affordable to households making no more than 60 percent of the area’s median income.

In Uptown, developers will need to devote 5 to 10 percent of their projects to affordable housing or pay $8 to $29.75 per square foot in fees, depending on the project.

Councilmember Rob Johnson, who chairs the council’s land-use committee, initially pushed for greater height increases in part of the neighborhood.

After some residents turned up at a public hearing to oppose Johnson’s effort, he abandoned it.

Along with the upzone legislation, the council approved resolutions declaring the city’s intent to approve livability in Lower Queen Anne and to create a new arts and cultural district in the neighborhood.