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City Council Alley Reroute Means Affordable Housing Could Be Coming to U District

August 21, 2023

Last week, Seattle City Council voted to advance an important piece of legislation to create more affordable housing by rerouting an alley between Roosevelt Way and 11th Ave NE in the U District. The alley currently divides a parcel of land on NE 45th St that is owned by Sound Transit. The parcel has the potential to be used for permanent affordable housing when it is redeveloped in the coming years. The alley reroute, also called an alley vacation, will allow Sound Transit to maximize the number of affordable units on the site by creating more space for a higher building.

The future use of Sound Transit’s parcel in the U District represents a crucial opportunity to create significant benefit for the neighborhood, including affordable housing and other community uses, on a rare vacant parcel in the neighborhood. As a result of the 2017 City of Seattle rezone of the U District, smaller residential buildings that traditionally have included affordable units are being torn down to accommodate new zoning heights. There are more than 30 new buildings planned for the neighborhood, including 8 towers over 20 stories, and 3,750 residential units. None include a significant number of affordable units. This, even though the City of Seattle estimates that nearly 64 percent of U District residents are below the federal poverty level.

The U District Partnership has played an important role in advocating that Sound Transit and City Council create the best opportunity for affordable housing and community benefits on the site. We have met with representatives from Sound Transit numerous times since 2019 to discuss future use of the site. In 2020, we advocated for a community engagement process on
the future use of the site to Sound Transit’s Board of Directors. Since then, Sound Transit has undertaken multiple public surveys to understand what people want to see in the future development of the site, and has determined that affordable housing is a key community desire.

Thanks to leadership from our District 4 Council representative, Alex Pedersen, the legislation will now be voted on by the full Seattle City Council on September 5. We encourage community members to engage with City Council about the alley vacation and future use of the site by contacting Councilmembers or making a public comment at the meeting. More information about the legislation can be found on City Council’s blog.


Photo from Seattle City Council blog, via Sound Transit’s presentation to Pedersen’s City Council Committee.