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Plan for First Hill Transfer of Development Rights program set for Seattle City Council approval

(Image: City of Seattle)

Seattle City Council committee members had no major questions and not much to say as they approved a new “Transfer of Development Rights” program for First Hill in a Wednesday afternoon vote.

The land use committee’s unanimous approval Wednesday moves the legislation to the full City Council next Tuesday where it is expected to also easily pass.

CHS reported here on the proposal that will boost the height of new projects in exchange for protecting the area’s landmark-worthy buildings by creating a TDR zone in the neighborhood that would allow the owner of a historic property to sell or trade the land’s development rights to another parcel in exchange for preserving the character structure.

Only one First Hill property currently has official landmarks status and is at the center of the legislation. Ownership of the landmarked Sorrento Hotel has a deal under contract to sell its 9th at Madison two-story parking garage as part of a major mixed-use redevelopment plan. CHS reported here in 2019 on Capitol Hill real estate investor and developer Mike Malone and the unusual $21 million deal he struck to complete his ownership of the 1909-built hotel.

Under the TDR legislation, the First Hill program would allow heights up to 350 feet for receiving properties in its 200-foot zones. Unique to the First Hill program, the TDR swaps would be limited to only sending and receiving sites on the same block.

Other similar zones are already active in the city including on Capitol Hill where this development rights swap played out in 2016 allowing the Pike Flats building at Pike and Harvard to rise ten more feet to 75 feet tall in a deal with the owners of the Melrose Market.


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