Gettin High in South Lake Union


View of South Lake Union (courtesy of Seattle Times)

Vulcan, Inc wants the City to increase height limits in South Lake Union from 65 and 85 FT to 160 FT to allow for 12-story buildings that would accommodate Amazon when they move from their Beacon Hill and Columbia Tower locations. The City is moving on this quickly due to pressure from Vulcan, which is saying they need to get going on the design phase so they can have the buildings move-in ready by 2011. A couple debates surround this proposition, namely the amount of $$ Vulcan will contribute to affordable housing ($5 million vs. $7.6 million), and whether the neighborhood should have some say before the City grants the height increase. Vulcan says their prospective tenant would move in to whatever they build, which could be a bunch of squat suburban-type buildings if the City doesn’t move fast.

Clearly allowing more height in the SLU nhood is in the best interest of creating a vibrant urban neighborhood and utilizing urban land efficiently, especially land so close to downtown. So what say should the neighborhood have? They already have design guidelines to help guide development. They probably won’t have much say given the cozy relationship between the Mayor and Vulcan, and I’m so not so sure they should if their intentions are to say no to taller buildings and massive-scale development. Like it or not SLU is fertile and appropriate ground for tall, tall buildings…

And as to the affordable housing – Steinbrueck is right, as always. No sweetheart deals for anybody!