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City Council will consider 65-foot height to clear path for 23rd and Union project

Lattes and pot shops may signal a changing neighborhood, but the true transformation of Seattle’s urban landscape often starts with the City Council’s Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee.

On Friday, the committee will be considering an up-zone to the northwest corner of 23rd and Union from its current 40-foot limit to 65 feet. The rezone request from Lake Union Partners is key to the developer’s plan to build a six-story, “market-rate apartment building” planned to stand 65-feet tall and include 20,000 square feet of ground-level retail.

UPDATE: Committee members approved the up zone Friday afternoon, clearing the way for a full council vote on the measure later this month.

The vote also clears the way for the project to potentially become the first to pay into an affordable housing fund as required by Mayor Ed Murray’s grand bargain. Lake Union Partners is expected to pay around $60,000 into an affordable housing fund as part of the city’s mandatory inclusionary zoning law for new commercial space. 

As part of a development agreement, the developers will also include four residential units affordable to households at or below 60% of the area median income. That roughly equates to a single person making $38,000 paying $1,000 a month of a one bedroom apartment.

Lake Union Partners has also said it will include additional affordable units through the city’s Multi-Family Tax Exemption program.

There was no public testimony was allowed Friday as the up zone is a “quasi-judicial” issue. Public testimony was taken as part of the Seattle Hearing Examiner process.

The Seattle Hearing Examiner approved the plans after developers presented their project in July. Lake Union Partners first filed for the rezone in April 2015. If approved by the City Council committee, the full council vote is expected to take place September 19th.

A “planning use and development agreement” attached to the rezone would limit development to the project proposed by Lake Union Partners.

2220 E Union will contain 144 residential apartment units, resident lobby and amenity spaces, an outdoor, landscaped courtyard and roof terrace, on-site building management and leasing offices, street level commercial space, and two below-grade parking levels with 50 non-residential spaces and 98 residential spaces.

Designed by Weinstein A+U, the 2220 E Union project will “create a transition in zoning heights that is appropriate to the particular characteristics of this rezone site and its neighbors to the north,” the review packet for the recommendation stage of the design process reads. Lake Union Partners recently completed work on The Central, located at the southwest corner of 23rd and Union.

A block away, Capitol Hill Housing has applied for a contract rezone to build its Liberty Bank Building — a planned 6-story development with 116 affordable apartment units above 3,300 square feet of street-level retail space and parking for 18 vehicles. The rezone would increase the parcel’s height limit from 40 feet to 65 feet.

A larger rezone in the area is currently being considered as part of the 23rd Avenue Action Plan, but developers are seeking a more immediate action on their parcel to get the project underway. The 23rd Ave Action Community Team will have its next meeting September 26th at Garfield Community Center.

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4 thoughts on “City Council will consider 65-foot height to clear path for 23rd and Union project

  1. I’ve been following this project since I live *right* there, and I’m happy with the density and potential for more store fronts. Too much parking, though. It’s in an (increasingly) dense area, right on bus lines, and a 7 minute walk to the center of the Pike/Pine restaurant/shopping/nightlife core. Huge parking garages dragging down affordability and decreasing interaction with the streetscape is not the direction we want to head in. Too much parking.

    • It’s worth asking what they will charge tenants to park in the new development.

      I live right by The Central across 23rd and wish they didn’t charge so much for their tenants to park ($175/mth for a spot). Seems like everyone is street parking instead and hard for long time residents to park.

      Happy for density/retail/restaurants!

    • I believe they have a grocery tenant for the first floor along 23rd who requested more customer parking. Their original intention was to put in less parking because they ran into so much water when digging the garage across the street at The Central.

  2. Has anybody heard anything from the city about possibly adding zoned parking near 23rd & Union? Parts of Capitol Hill, Eastlake, First Hill, etc, require resident permits for parking after 6pm. Something like this could help mitigate some of the concerns people have with these larger developments. Personally, I like the idea of taller development, particularly along major bus lines. I just want to make sure those overly concerned with parking understand that other neighborhoods have been dealing with this issue for some time and that there are solutions other than NIMBY.