What you can expect as U-District booms | KUOW News and Information

What you can expect as U-District booms

May 31, 2016

More high-rises could sprout up in the University District under new zoning recommendations from the city.

It's one piece of the city's plan for more housing to keep up with the booming population. The city held a public meeting about it Tuesday night at the Neptune Theater and will accept public comments until June 30.

Under the new city plan, apartment buildings could be as tall as 320 feet -- that's as high as the UW Tower. New office buildings could be half that size, 120 feet. Right now, most U-District buildings are capped at 65 feet.

The city's recommendations have some residents worried. John Fox with the group Seattle Displacement Coalition says the neighborhood could lose subsidized and affordable housing.

"You're going to have development interests moving in here, buying up the existing buildings, and then speculation would drive up the price of homes and the price of rents on the stuff that isn't torn down," Fox said.

City planner Dave LaClergue said his department understands that concern. So, the city would require some affordable housing in the re-zoning plan. 

He says within the zoning proposal, the city requires that as development happens the developer “either has to provide a certain number of affordable units as part of the building, or it pays into a city fund that is used to develop subsidized housing."

The most visible changes would be centered around the future light-rail station on 43rd Street next to the UW Tower. The re-zoning would have little impact on The Ave in order to preserve its historic look.