Photo: alans1948/flickr

The Seattle City Council approved an upzone of the Chinatown-International District this week. Excluded from the changes will be the historic heart of Chinatown, situated west of Interstate 5 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, reports the Seattle Times.

On some blocks in the neighborhood, the upzone will increase maximum heights from 240 to 270 feet. On others, the increase will go from 150 to 170 feet and 85 to 95 feet.

The height changes trigger Mayor Ed Murray’s Mandatory Housing Affordability program which requires developers to either include affordable housing in their projects or pay fees to help nonprofits and the City of Seattle build affordable housing elsewhere.

Developers on most blocks of Chinatown-International District will need to commit seven percent of their projects to affordable housing or pay $20.75 per square foot, according to the city. For some blocks and projects, the requirements are five percent and $8 per square foot.

If all developers in the neighborhood pay fees instead of adding affordable housing to their projects, the result could total $13 million over 10 years, reports the Seattle Times. The city predicts that funding could bring in an estimated 145 units of income- and rent-restricted housing affordable to households making no more than 60 percent of the area’s median income of $57,600 per year. The housing could be built in the International District or other neighborhoods.

This year, Mandatory Housing Affordability upzones were approved by the City Council for the University District, downtown, South Lake Union and three Central District intersections. More neighborhoods will be up for consideration next year.

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