Monday's legislation will allow high rises as tall as 17 stories in West Campus and in South Campus, around the medical center.
The University of Washington won City Council approval Monday for a massive growth plan, including a high-rise “innovation district.”
The university’s master plan for its Seattle campus in the next 10 years and beyond calls for up to 6 million square feet in new construction to accommodate another 7,000-plus students and employees.
The council approved the plan with a number of conditions, including a more aggressive goal for reducing car commutes than the UW had proposed. The legislation says the university must have no more than 12 percent of students and employees commute by driving alone by 2028. The university had proposed 15 percent.
Now that the council has OK’d the master plan, the UW can embark on specific projects.
When council members gave preliminary approval to the plan in September, they included a condition that the UW build at least 450 units of affordable housing for its lower-wage employees.
The university subsequently agreed to build the housing but asked that the legislation treat the construction as voluntary rather than required. The council changed the legislation to reflect that, avoiding a potential legal battle with the UW over the provision.
Councilmember Rob Johnson, who spearheaded the council’s consideration of the master plan, said the growth would help the UW advance economic opportunity for Seattle residents.
Councilmember Kshama Sawant voted to approve the plan, citing “small benefits to the public.” But in doing so she criticized the university for not building more affordable housing. She called 450 units a “paltry number when you consider the actual need.”
The plan calls for half the growth to take place in West Campus, past 15th Avenue Northeast. The UW wants to build high rises there where students and researchers can partner with companies, governments and nonprofits to start new projects and businesses.
Monday’s legislation will allow high rises as tall as 17 stories in West Campus and in South Campus, around the medical center.