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Seattle City Council approves high-rises in South Lake Union

SEATTLE — The Seattle City Council has given the go-ahead for high rises in South Lake Union.

Today it unanimously approved 16-story residential towers along the lake and 400-foot towers near Denny Way.

That’s much taller than what’s allowed now, which is between six and eight stories.

Opponents are concerned the taller limits will ruin some valuable views, and that the neighborhood will cater to the rich.

But council members say part of the bill will make five percent of the new units affordable enough that people making less than $45,000 a year will be able to live there.

Council Bill 117603 is a package of land use changes designed to increase development capacity in South Lake Union and make way for future job growth and housing demands.

The city expects that by 2031, South Lake Union will have to absorb some 12,000 households and 22,000 jobs to continue to meet its share of future growth.

In addition to allowing greater building heights, the new zoning also imposes development standards and incentives to encourage a more open space and an improved streetscape.

The new zoning allows only one tower per block on lakefront blocks.   Other blocks can have two towers but they must be more widely spaced than anywhere else in the city.

There are also requirements for strong street-level design standards and retail businesses at ground level.  The zoning is also designed to maintain the character of specific communities through by preserving landmark properties and existing open spaces.

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