A rezoning ordinance will allow the Seattle Housing Authority (sha) to tear down Yesler Terrace and use the revenue to build new housing nearby while redeveloping the entire neighborhood with several high-rises and a new park.
sha expects to get about $195 per square foot of land when it sells the property to developers.
But what if the sale brings in more than that?
Councilmember Nick Licata is proposing language within the ordinance that would require that any additional funding go straight back into Yesler Terrace and nowhere else.
Licata proposed the amendment at an Aug. 9 meeting of the city council, when the council and city staff rolled up their sleeves to sort out the details of the legislation.
sha said the language was too restrictive, but it is willing to work with city staff. Licata hopes the final language will require that all excess revenue remain at Yesler Terrace.
“We did not want to see, basically, the revenue generated from Yesler Terrace being used in other locations. It should remain here,” Licata said.
The sale could be a windfall for the sha, said Sharon Lee of the Low Income Housing Institute. Her estimates put the value of property at $270 per square foot.
Licata also wants to control where housing for the lowest income units will go. He worried that once the land is redeveloped, units for people living at 30 percent of the median income will be pushed east of Boren, reserving the wide views of downtown and the Puget Sound for market-rate residents.
The project isn’t just about replacing the housing somewhere. It’s about enhancing the community, he said.
“We’re trying to not just maintain but improve one of the original garden communities in Seattle,” Licata said.