Seattle Passes Downtown Zoning Reforms

The changes, part of the mayor’s Downtown Activation Plan, make way for more residential development in the city’s downtown core.

1 minute read

October 2, 2023, 11:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

View of downtown Seattle with Space Needle and mountains in background

ryancslimakphoto / Adobe Stock

The Seattle City Council approved several rezoning changes proposed by Mayor Bruce Harrell in the Downtown Activation Plan (DAP).

According to Doug Trumm, writing in The Urbanist, the changes include a residential 440-foot highrise rezone in the Downtown Retail Core, a change that encourages residential high-rises and could incentivize a new downtown school, and a rezoning of Belltown that will allow hotel uses. That rezone area “covers about eight blocks and has nine vacant properties currently used as surface parking lots.”

The mayor’s other proposals include “extending the life of land use and building entitlements and permits, waiving or modifying development standards to encourage tower office-to-residential conversions, incentivizing childcare with extra building heights, allowing a variety of less active uses at street level (e.g., office, lab space, residential building amenities), and facilitating retail and entertainment uses at all levels of a building in downtown zones.”

The changes come ahead of the Seattle Comprehensive Plan Major Update, which the city must complete in 2024 and purports to make way for 120,000 new housing units over the next two decades.

Wednesday, September 27, 2023 in The Urbanist

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