Capitol Hill Community Post | Community agreement on 23rd Ave properties opens door to development, Mandatory Housing Affordability implementation

From the City of Seattle

Mayor Ed Murray will send legislation to City Council to implement a community vision for 23rd Avenue and Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) requirements at key intersections with Union, Cherry and Jackson streets in the Central District.

“Generations of families and people have called the Central District home, making enormous contributions to Seattle’s heritage and identity,” said Mayor Murray. “Our goal is to ensure we maintain the cultural character of the Central District while keeping it affordable during a time of unprecedented investment and growth. These affordability requirements will help us accomplish these goals with a shared vision for this unique community.”

The 23rd Avenue Action Community Team has been working in the Central Area to support the neighborhood’s unique identity and community character by encouraging pedestrian friendly mixed-use development that promotes new housing options, including affordable housing, while supporting existing and new small businesses to serve the diverse community.

“The 23rd Avenue ACT supports the zoning recommendations for the Union-Cherry-Jackson nodes,” said Lois Martin, chair of the group. “As community stakeholders, we have been working in the Central Area for close to six years to develop and implement comprehensive work plans to support and enhance smart growth along the 23rd Avenue business corridor.”

The 23rd Avenue Action Plan is the product of nearly 100 meetings, over 30 community-based organizations and hundreds of area residents who engaged in hands-on and interactive workshops, focus group meetings, individual workshops, in-person interviews, business canvassing, and online surveys. In addition to the proposed rezone, the City has worked with the community on several additional local investments, including support for small businesses, transportation improvements, a cultural district, and increased affordable housing – and the City will continue to look for new partnerships with the community.

The agreement would allow taller buildings in exchange for contributions to affordable housing. It is estimated that the MHA requirements implemented along 23rd Avenue will produce 50 new affordable homes over the years. The remainder of the Central District will be included in the citywide MHA rezone legislation expected later this year, and will help contribute to over 3,700 rent- and income-restricted homes in the next 10 years. The cost of a rent-restricted two-bedroom apartment for a family of three earning $52,000 would be $1,296.

Seattle’s MHA program requires multi-family residential and commercial development to either include rent-restricted homes for low-income families or make a payment to the Office of Housing to support affordable housing. For these sites, the requirements would be 7 to 10 percent of homes or $20.75 to $29.75 per square foot for residential buildings and between 5 and 8 percent of floor area or $8 and $20.75 per square foot for commercial buildings.  The proposal includes some of the City’s highest MHA requirements in recognition of the Central District’s unique history, as shown in Seattle 2035 Equity and Growth Analysis.

The increase in development capacity needed to implement these MHA requirements is an additional one to three stories.

New MHA requirements have already been implemented in Downtown, South Lake Union and the University District. The Council is currently considering how to implement MHA in the Chinatown-International District.

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