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Building up — that’s the answer for Puget Sound dealing with population growth

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TACOMA, Wash. — Chinatown International District is the latest Seattle neighborhood to be approved for taller apartment and condo buildings.
But Seattle is not the only area in Puget Sound building up.

Tacoma Mall and the area surrounding it is a place designated as a growth region because it’s close to I-5 and a transit hub. Right now the city of Tacoma is trying to modify how tall they can build in some parts of Tacoma Mall.

Tacoma officials say it’s not so much about upzoning as it is redefining the project to accommodate the growth.

“It needs to be a more urban place,” Brian Boudet, with Tacoma’s Planning and Development Services Department, said.

Meaning some parts of Tacoma Mall could see taller residential units.

“So folks can in fact live down here in greater and greater numbers and not live in the outskirts,” Boudet said.

And cities are finding ways to build more affordable housing in exchange for building up.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray signed the Mandatory Housing Affordability legislation on Wednesday for Chinatown-International District. Developers will now be able to build 1 to 3 stories higher in exchange for building affordable housing.

Developers have a choice -- either make 7% of its units affordable or contribute money to a fund for affordable housing.

In Seattle, an individual would have to make $40,320 or less to qualify for affordable housing but supporters say even those who don’t qualify will benefit from the extra development.

“I envision a lot more people able to live and utilize this neighborhood,” Maiko Winkler Chin with Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority said.

Next year about two dozen more Seattle neighborhoods will be considered for upzoning including Rainier Beach, Crown Hill and Wallingford.
Residents have signs in front yards that say upzoning is not welcome.

And in the Houghton neighborhood of Kirkland, that sentiment is shared by longtime residents who are opposed to the idea of letting 5-story buildings in the suburbs.

In addition to Kirkland, the suburban areas of Puyallup is also seeing a lot of growth.

Puyallup recently approved upzoning of its South Hill neighborhood allowing up to 10 story buildings in parts of South Hill.

The city says upzoning is already attracting developers and they expect to build 2,000 more residential units to accommodate the growth.

In the greater Seattle area we are gaining 1,100 residents per week, according to our news partner the Puget Sound Business Journal.