Developers in part of downtown Seattle who volunteer to build taller and thinner will be allowed to construct buildings with slightly more total floor area.
The Seattle City Council voted Monday to promote more space between high-rises in a segment of downtown by encouraging developers to construct taller, thinner buildings.
On blocks in the zone where towers already exist, the legislation will allow the city’s construction-department director to increase maximum heights from 550 to 640 feet while reducing the maximum size of floor plates.
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Developers who volunteer to build taller and thinner will be allowed to construct buildings with slightly more total floor area.
Councilmember Sally Bagshaw championed the legislation after sustained lobbying by some downtown-tower residents with concerns about views, sunlight and crowding.
Tower spacing has been mandatory in parts of downtown for years but not in the Downtown Office Core 2 zone, which includes the Escala, a 271-unit condominium tower built in 2009 at Virginia Street and Fourth Avenue.
Concerned about a 45-story tower planned for a property across the alley from their building, Escala residents have since at least 2015 been asking for tower spacing.
They hired former Councilmember Peter Steinbrueck to plead their case at City Hall and in June 2016 filed a legal challenge in an effort to get their way. The challenge by the Downtown Residents Alliance sought to block Mayor Ed Murray’s plan for upzoning downtown while requiring developers to help the city create affordable housing.
They dropped the challenge last September after coming under fire from affordable-housing advocates and said they would instead seek relief directly from the council.
Residents who testified for the legislation Monday said it would achieve tower spacing without reducing the amount of housing built.
Bagshaw said the legislation would preserve for residents “light and air and some sunshine and sometimes a little more privacy.”