Business
4:51 pm
Wed November 14, 2012

Vulcan proposes affordable housing land deal in South Lake Union

Paul Allen’s real estate company Vulcan wants to give the city of Seattle land in the South Lake Union neighborhood. In exchange, the company wants the right to build taller towers.

The Seattle city council is working to rezone the South Lake Union neighborhood to allow taller buildings. That’s something Vulcan very much wants. The city requires developers to either build affordable units in their towers or pay the city extra money for affordable housing if they build above a certain height.

Instead of building affordable units in its towers, Vulcan wants to give the city a chunk of land to meet that requirement. The land sits between Dexter and Aurora, and Vulcan executive Lori Mason Curran says it borders land the city already owns.

"It really gives them the opportunity to use some land they have now that’s not really very usable and make this a big site that could accommodate as much as 400 units of housing and all these other services," Curran said.

Those services could include a job training center, child care and maybe a homeless shelter. Vulcan would provide more than $3 million in cash toward the project and has partnered with non-profit housing groups that could develop the site with tax credits and subsidies.

Sharon Lee heads the Low Income Housing Institute, one of the non-profit groups involved with the project. She says her group runs four affordable housing developments in the neighborhood and wants to do more.

"It's close to impossible for us to find additional land in South Lake Union because the real estate is so pricey," Lee said. "So we've been asking Vulcan directly that if they could make land available to us to do non-profit affordable housing, and so I think their response is great."

This all hinges on the rezone being approved – something that may happen early next year. And the council has to agree to the deal.

Council member Nick Licata says he thinks it’s too modest and the city needs to require developers to build a lot more affordable housing in South Lake Union.