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The entrance to Seattles International District. (Flickr Creative Commons Photo / Riparia)

Legislation to allow taller buildings in Seattle’s Chinatown/International District neighborhood — in exchange for money for affordable housing — is moving ahead.

Seattle City Council’s Land Use and Transportation Committee OK’d the plan, which would see building heights increase throughout the neighborhood, and it will go in front of the full council next month. Height limits of 85 feet would be increased to 95 feet; 150-foot limits would move to 170; and 240-foot zones will go to 270 feet.

In exchange, developers will have to set aside 7 percent of units for affordable housing or pay $20.75 per square foot of development, and that money would be co-mingled with other funding sources to finance affordable housing projects. If all qualifying projects pay into the program, they will generate approximately $13 million for affordable housing. That would be enough to build approximately 150 affordable units.

These zoning changes are part of the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda, a plan aimed at adding 50,000 new homes in Seattle over the next decade, 20,000 of which would be reserved for low- and middle-income residents. As part of the plan, the city is pursuing upzones throughout the city’s densest neighborhoods, in exchange for mandatory requirements to build affordable housing into the buildings or pay for affordable housing to be built elsewhere.

In April, the council OK’d zoning changes in downtown and the tech-heavy area of South Lake Union. The council also upzoned the University District neighborhood this year, though that was not specifically part of the affordable housing push.

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