Uptown MHA rezone moves out of committee

After five meetings and a contentious public hearing last week, the Planning, Land Use and Zoning Committee passed an amended MHA rezone for the Uptown urban center out of committee today.

Several proposed amendments were withdrawn, including one that would increase allowed building heights in the strip between Mercer and Roy to 125 feet. However, several amendments made it through, including:

  • increasing heights in the “heart of Uptown” to 85 feet, except for a tiny parcel on the northwest corner of Roy and Queen Anne. The residents of the Bayview retirement community had complained that a height increase on that parcel would throw shade onto the skilled-nursing floor of their building. During public comment today, a speaker claimed that a new shading study had been completed last week which showed that at 85 feet only part of the skilled-nursing floor would be shaded, it would only be shaded during the winter (when pretty much all buildings in Seattle are shaded by their neighbors), and even if the height was only increased to 65 feet as originally proposed it would still partially shade that floor. Negotiations continue, and the zoning for that parcel may still get adjusted before the rezone gains final approval.
  • Increased building area incentives for arts space, landmark preservation, provision of 10 or more family-sized units in a building, and codevelopment of school space (including preschools).
  • requiring Transportation Management Plans for development projects that are projected to add 50 or more vehicles to the peak evening commute or 25 more cars parking on the street at night.
  • setting maximums of 1 parking space per 1000 square feet of floor area in office buildings.

The committee also passed a companion resolution to commit the city to some additional actions unrelated to zoning:

  • updating the Seattle Center Master Plan;
  • developing a Mobility Action Plan as part of the Key Arena redevelopment project using the context of the rezone and the Uptown urban design guidelines;
  • updating the Uptown Neighborhood Design Guidelines;
  • completing a Historic Resources Survey;
  • requesting SDCI to develop business practices for ensuring that Transfer Development Rights (TDR) and Transportation Management Plan (TMP) agreements are enforced, or alternatively that compliance is secured through a monetary bond.
  • requesting OPCD and the Department of Neighborhoods to collaborate on improving the TDR program;
  • requesting the Office of Arts and Culture and the Office of Housing to review options for aligning Uptown’s Arts and Cultural District designation with affordable housing initiatives.

Both the rezone ordinance and the companion resolution will come up for final adoption by the full Council on October 2nd, at which time there may be a few last-minute amendments.