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Mixed Reactions To Proposed Rezone Of Seattle's University District

Flickr photo/Alvin Smith (CC BY-NC 2.0) /
The 32 story University Tower

More 32-story buildings, like the UW Tower, could be on the horizon for Seattle's University District. Proposed zoning changes head to the city council for review next week. Just as big as the high-rise buildings are the arguments for and against the rezone.

Seattle City Councilmember Rob Johnson recently led an open house on the topic -- and had to quiet down the crowd.

"I would like to encourage us to not devolve to a Trumpian tactic, and please allow us to have a discussion today," he said to the packed room earlier this month.

City leaders say Seattle desperately needs more housing. Under the U-District rezoning proposal, apartment buildings could be 32 stories. Most U-District buildings are capped at 6 or 7 stories right now. But there's a feeling from some neighbors that rezoning will diminish the U-District's character,

Jeannie Gorman owns a home in the area, and testified at the meeting.

"Our neighborhood will become as characterless as Ballard if this goes through. You need to do better, and do not cram your immediate growth down our throat," Gorman said.

And others also voiced opposition.

However, many people said they would welcome a rezone. Brooke Brod says she grew up in the U-District.

"The U District shouldn't only be available to people like me who are lucky enough, basically to inherit my home, or to people who can afford nearly a million dollars to buy into this neighborhood," she said.

The University District will be the first neighborhood where developers are required to pay for affordable units. On Tuesday, the city council takes its first crack at refining the U-District zoning plans.

The city council could take a final vote on specific U-District zoning changes in January.