Story about Seattle

My good friend Sebastian sent me a link to a great story about Seattle, but as much about Vancouver, where they are trying to implement ways to have housing and office development benefit communities and their residents.

At first glance, you might say, oh, this is what Boston is proposing for the Seaport district.  Maybe.  I fear, however, that what will be the reality, in Seattle, will be but a dream, in Boston.

An excerpt which I find interesting:

By Jennifer Langston, Seattle Post-Intelligencer Reporter

(Seattle Mayor) Nickels’ plan would substantially raise building heights in parts of downtown, including the Denny Triangle, the office core and a sliver of Belltown. It grew from neighborhood plans in which downtown condo dwellers said they wanted more residents, livelier streets and better amenities.

In places where the city wants to encourage residential development, those buildings could rise to 400 feet.

Office towers in commercial areas could be built to 600 or 700 feet.

Residential developers wanting to build taller would be required to use environmentally friendly principles and contribute financially to an incentive program for the first time. Three quarters of the money would be used to build low-income housing, with the rest going toward open space, day cares or historic preservation.

The mayor’s office is considering setting the fee at roughly $10 a square foot.

Several downtown neighborhoods in Vancouver have a similar blanket development charge. But landowners who benefit from zoning changes that make their property more valuable also pay a negotiated fee that can reach nearly $30 a square foot.

Seattle Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis said the downtown zoning changes are part of a larger strategy to create dense and livable center city neighborhoods….

….Nickels unveiled plans this week to start charging developers building in Seattle’s urban center fees to pay for parks and open space. While the amount has not been set, it could range from $1 to $2 a square foot.

Over the next two decades, the money could add 12 acres of parks, plazas or sculpture gardens to the current inventory of 81 acres in the center of Seattle, officials said….

….The city’s goal is to create 1 acre of open space per 1,000 households plus 1 acre per 10,000 jobs. By comparison, Vancouver planners require developers to provide 2.75 acres of parks for every 1,000 new residents they add.

Over the next year, the Nickels administration also plans to work on development fees that would help cover the cost of transportation improvements as urban centers grow, Ceis said. Improving downtown’s streetscape guidelines and looking for ways to attract families are also priorities, he said.

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