Seattle: Yesler Terrace redevelopment plan passes

Central District News. Aug 16:

Council Committee passes Yesler Terrace redevelopment plans

The Yesler Terrace Special Committee of the Seattle City Council voted to pass the Seattle Housing Authority’s Yesler Terrace redevelopment plan.

The plan moves the full City Council for a September 4 vote.

The plan received broad support from committee members despite several hours of testimony from concerned residents and project opponents at a public hearing last week. SHA Board Member Yusuf Cabdi resigned at the meeting, citing a lack of assurances that current residents would be able to return once the current buildings are razed and new, taller towers are constructed.

From the City Council:

Council President Sally J. Clark, chair of the Yesler Terrace Special Committee, said, “The Council took this opportunity to ensure the Yesler Terrace redevelopment plan will respect the needs of people who live in Yesler now and to ensure that Yesler becomes a great urban neighborhood again. The new development of great parks and gardens, better streets and a true housing mix means we ensure low-income people have a great Yesler home far into the future.”

The legislative package requires SHA to replace 561 existing units of very low-income housing for current residents, build more than 1,200 new income-restricted units at a variety of affordability levels, and allows for as many as 4,500 total housing units.

Councilmember Nick Licata, co-vice chair of the Special Committee said, “The Council made this development better by providing stronger assurances that excess revenues must provide additional very low income housing and any future use of Housing Levy funds at Yesler Terrace must be awarded according to a competitive process.  In addition, renters’ rights to return to Yesler are much strengthened by limiting SHA’s criteria for screening returning tenants.”

“The Yesler Terrace redevelopment will increase low income housing, create a vibrant neighborhood next to downtown, and take a major step towards meeting our growth management goals. New Holly, High Point, and Rainier Vista demonstrate Seattle Housing Authority’s ability to develop extraordinary communities,” stated Councilmember Richard Conlin, co-vice chair of the Yesler Terrace Special Committee. “The Yesler Terrace new development will be added to this list as a careful, thoughtful, and prudent project that will make a big difference in many people’s lives.”

Terms of the planned action ordinance, cooperative agreement and street vacation call for SHA to construct community gardens, pedestrian pathways and pocket parks open to the public, and re-landscape the neighborhood with more trees than are currently present.

“Remaking Yesler Terrace will create a strong neighborhood full of opportunity and hope in the heart of Seattle,” said Councilmember Tim Burgess. “It’s a project that creates jobs, contributes to economic growth, protects affordable housing and lines up perfectly with our desire for fairness and opportunity for all. It’s a project that is rooted in our progressive values.”

“I’m pleased that SHA has been working with members of the community to maintain the vitality of Little Saigon,” said Councilmember Jean Godden.

The Housing Authority may build up to 900,000 square feet of office, medical service space and lodging, as well as 150,000 square feet of retail and services.

SHA will provide comparable housing for all current Yesler Terrace residents during construction. Every resident will also receive a certificate guaranteeing their right to return to the neighborhood once new housing is completed. SHA estimates replacement construction will begin in 2013.

“As Civil Rights chair, we must work inclusively with this diverse community and reassure the 1,200 residents who are families with children, people with disabilities, seniors, and immigrants who speak other languages, a right to return to their home and community,” said Councilmember Bruce Harrell. “I am confident that this cooperative agreement will assure, at a minimum, a 1-for-1 replacement of low-income units at Yesler Terrace.”

For more information on the proposed Yesler Terrace redevelopment plans, visit our web pages.

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