On Monday, July 31, 2017, Seattle City Council unanimously passed Council Bill 119038, which encourages “Tall & Skinny” towers in Downtown Office Core 2 [DOC2] by providing for additional setbacks between existing residential towers and new towers in exchange for additional height and density. District 7 Council Member, Sally Bagshaw, championed the legislation and personally thanked Escala residents John and LaGayle Sosnowy for their efforts in initiating and crafting this legislation during yesterday's public Council meeting. Escala is located in DOC2.
The bill allows both of the developments now proposed on the 5th Avenue side of the Escala alley to increase their height from 550 to 640 feet in exchange for setting back the tower portion of the building (the floors above 85 feet) by 15+ feet. The capacity lost by narrowing of the building is more than offset by the additional height and density (by approximately a 1.2 ratio).
So what could this mean? As an example, if the developer on 5th & Virginia ("5V”) opts in to this legislation, the separation between the tower portions of Escala and 5V would be a minimum of 35 feet, providing badly needed increases in light, air, and privacy versus their current plans.
Renowned daylighting expert, Professor Joel Loveland, co-founder of the UW Integrated Design Lab, in a study of the project at 5th & Virginia, cautioned that the resulting lack of daylight in both adjacent buildings as currently proposed will put residents at serious risk for adverse health effects.
This bill can be additive to HALA, which allows developers to add additional height if they include low-income housing or provide funding to the City for that housing equivalent. The developer for 5th & Stewart ("5S") has already opted into HALA. Time will tell if either of the developers on 5th Avenue will opt in to this bill, but the added height and density are significant incentives, and it would be to their advantage in terms of both time and investment.
This bill provides the city with an opportunity to have it all…livability, health, and safety protection for downtown residents, no reduction in development capacity for developers, and generate the proposed funding for affordable housing.
Click on the link to Dan Beekman’s article in the Seattle Times on this legislation: