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Monday, February 27, 2006

Looking Into Downtown's Future

Is downtown Seattle destined to become populated with nothing but luxury condos and low-income housing? If taxes and fees for building downtown keep going up, some see that as Seattle's future.

As the Seattle City Council prepares to vote on reshaping downtown Seattle with taller buildings, a heated debate remains over how much residential developers should pay to maintain affordable housing downtown.

Builders who want to profit from taller skyscrapers would contribute to a fund used to create housing affordable for $11-an-hour workers such as Allen and other low-income residents.

Business interests, neighborhood groups and even some low-income housing builders worry that if the city imposes fees that are too high, it could frustrate goals to concentrate new residents downtown.

Additional expenses for affordable housing, environmentally friendly buildings and underground parking could disproportionately hurt developers trying to build less lucrative apartments or condos aimed at the middle class, some argue.

"It guarantees downtown will have only luxury or subsidized housing, which ... will not make a healthy neighborhood," said Kate Joncas, executive director of the Downtown Seattle Association.
Certainly if the appreciation of the last five years were to continue, and the City Council imposed more and more fees, that would seem to be a likely outcome. Of course, appreciation isn't likely to continue this break-neck pace, so a two-caste system seems rather unlikely. Come to think of it, I seem to have heard this argument somewhere else...

(Jennifer Langston, Seattle P-I, 02.23.2006)

1 comment:

waiting said...

In NYC they give tax breaks to builders who set aside a certain amount of the apts. in any given building to low income.

Unfortunately I can't remamber the % of apts. in each bldg. that need to be low-income to get the tax break. But I bet somebody at city hall could find out.

It works for NYC and the beauty of it is that it ensures low & high income will not be segregated- although I don't know how Seattleites would feel about that.

The best scenario would be for Americans to just start living within their means and get off of the debt hog. That would bring RE prices down but quick.