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Mayor Harrell Signs Legislation to Allow Construction of Workforce Housing, Artist Workspaces in Seattle’s Georgetown Neighborhood

900 units of housing and artist workspaces to be built to create new arts-centered community

Seattle – Today, Mayor Bruce Harrell signed legislation that will allow new workforce housing and community spaces to be built in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood by increasing the height limit. The land use code amendment legislation was unanimously passed by the City Council last week.

“Just minutes away from our downtown core, Georgetown is a treasured and historic part of Seattle,” said Mayor Harrell. “New housing and workspaces will enhance the unique spirit of this neighborhood and create more economic opportunities for our city’s artists, entrepreneurs, and creatives. I’m pleased that this new legislation will create a more complete, vibrant, and affordable neighborhood with a variety of housing options, small businesses, artisan workspaces, and other amenities.”

The amendment provides a ten-foot height limit exception – from a 75-foot limit to a proposed 85-foot limit – in a continuous 9.7 acres along 4th Avenue South between S. Fidalgo Street and S. Dawson Street that has been zoned commercial since the 1970s. The area is surrounded by industrial zones, which already have a height limit of 85 feet. The legislation responds to the unique geographic circumstances in the area to allow more housing and mixed-use development.

Criteria to access the height limit exception include:

  • Development must meet the green building standard
  • At least five stories must be residential use
  • At least 20% of the ground floor must be active street-level uses
  • All dwellings must have sound insulating windows and air cooling and ventilation systems

Last year, Mayor Harrell signed the Maritime and Industrial Strategy into law, the first update to Seattle’s industrial land use policy in decades. As part of the two-year engagement process led by the Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD), many Georgetown neighbors voiced their support for more housing and mixed-use development in the neighborhood.

Under the new legislation, Watershed Community Development, which owns a large share of the land, will be creating a new arts community centered around workforce housing and community services for neighborhood workers and artists.

The plan includes developing approximately 900 units of workforce housing affordable to households in the 60% AMI-80% AMI range and community spaces for artists and other workers. The project is a collaboration of community members, affordable housing developers, and artists with support from private and public funders.

“We thank the Mayor and Council for their thoughtful and responsive action to approve extra height to ensure more livable affordable housing in our new Georgetown Live/Work district,” said Ron Posthuma, Watershed Board President. “This will also allow better artist studios and family size units. We can now begin constructing our first building, called The Elements, later this year.”

What People Are Saying

Councilmember Rob Saka, District 1 (West Seattle, South Park, Georgetown)

“As the Councilmember representing Georgetown, I am so proud that the neighborhood will help lead the way to build the new Live/Work District that will serve the entire Duwamish Valley.  Georgetown is a thriving neighborhood because of great partnerships. This is exactly the type of win-win outcomes we can achieve when the community, local businesses, and government come together.”

Councilmember Tammy Morales, District 2 (South East Seattle), Land Use Chair

“Georgetown is the oldest neighborhood in Seattle and home to a vibrant community of artists and cultural workers. As the former Councilmember for Georgetown, I’m really excited to see this legislation implemented to build almost a thousand units of housing in the heart of the neighborhood. Across the city, we need more projects like this that incentivize equitable development in collaboration with community-based organizations.”

Director Rico Quirindongo, Office of Planning and Community Development

“The Office of Planning & Community Development is working on numerous initiatives to increase housing choices and housing supply in our city. This Georgetown legislation will support an immediate opportunity to add infill housing that is aligned with the community’s vision for their neighborhood and works toward our shared goal of sustained placemaking for working artists, low-income residents, and BIPOC communities most at risk of displacement.”