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caption: Mercer Mega Block as seen from Dexter, in South Lake Union.
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Mercer Mega Block as seen from Dexter, in South Lake Union.
Credit: Google Maps

Mercer Mega Block sale could haul in $143.5 million for city of Seattle

A $143.5 million sale of the Mercer Mega Block could plow tens of millions into affordable housing efforts in Seattle.

The swath of three parcels of about 3 acres is in the heart of South Lake Union. Mayor Jenny Durkan called this one of the most consequential property deals the city has ever done.

"This was a generational opportunity to take an underutilized city-owned property and to make a real, transformational investment to create jobs, to create more affordable and mixed-income housing, and to build more safe transportation connections,” Durkan said before the announcement that the city is negotiating the sale with a developer, Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc.

If the deal goes through, the developer will put in a life sciences campus along with a community center that the city will operate rent-free, and 175 units of affordable housing.

In addition, nearly $80 million from the sale will go toward the city's affordable housing efforts. That includes property acquisition efforts, and a financing tool to create backyard cottages and in-law apartments, the city said in a press release.

Another $5 million will go for homelessness services, and another roughly $25 million will go to transportation projects. Other chunks of money will go to debt repayment and transaction costs.

Durkan said the deal must benefit social justice in Seattle.

“We know as this city has become more expensive, the people who have suffered the most and been pushed out the quickest are communities of color,” Durkan said. “So we really want to be able to use these resources to remedy and address displacement in a way that the city has not had the resources to do before.”

The three parcels are on the north side of Mercer Street, east of Highway 99. The Paul Allen Brain Institute and a UW Medicine research center are nearby, as are Amazon's campus and Google's new building.

The deal still requires City Council approval. Alexandria has been involved in other developments in the area, the city press release said, including the Lake Union Steam Plant at 1201 Eastlake Avenue East and the Juno Building at 400 Dexter Avenue North.