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Seattle’s Uptown neighborhood is growing up

Seattle’s Uptown neighborhood has been selected for the city’s next upzone, raising the height of newly-constructed buildings allowed in the area with the goal of making room for affordable housing.

“By coupling growth with affordability, we are ensuring that Uptown’s booming culture and economy can be a model for community building rather than a model for gentrification,” Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said.

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“We all know that one result of unprecedented growth has been unprecedented rents,” he said at an event announcing the Uptown upzone plan. “Today, Uptown, we are saying that our success won’t undermine our communities.”

The mayor announced the plan for Uptown Wednesday. It will allow for taller buildings while requiring mandatory low-income housing. The city promotes the plan will create 600 new affordable units along with market-rate housing in the area immediately around the Seattle Center. This is part of the city’s Mandatory Housing Affordability program that requires developers to include rent-restricted units or else pay a fee to construct the affordable housing elsewhere town.

The plan proposes to allow buildings as tall as 160 feet in the area immediately to the south and east of the Space Needle. To the west and north, buildings can grow as tall as 65-85 feet.

For comparison, the Space Needle is 605 feet. Seattle’s Great Wheel is 175 feet and Smith Tower is 462 feet.

The proposed Uptown plan is part of a series of upzones Seattle is pushing for. Upzones in South Lake Union and also the University District have already been approved. New U-District construction is now allowed to build as tall as 320 feet in some areas.

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