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What New Upzoning Will Mean for the U District

Published on March 3, 2020

A view of the University District from afar centered around the UW Tower.
The University District before recent construction,. Image Credit: WikiMedia Commons.

The U District has changed a lot in the last couple of decades. But it is about to change even more dramatically. In 2021, a Sound Transit light rail station will open in the heart of the U District at N.E. 43rd Street and Brooklyn Avenue N.E. Light rail will transform the U District into a neighborhood that is exponentially more connected, making it a desirable place to live, work and play. Developers have taken notice, especially since the Seattle City Council upzoned the neighborhood in 2017, raising maximum building heights up to 320 feet in some areas. Between N.E. 41st and N.E. 50th streets, west of the Ave—where building heights were raised the most—nine towers up to 30 stories high are in development or planned. Dozens of other projects are in the works across the neighborhood, ranging from townhouses to mixed-use buildings.

The University of Washington’s Campus Master Plan includes intentions to further develop the University’s campus near UW Medical Center, south of N.E. 41st Street and west of 15th Avenue N.E. to the University Bridge. The plan calls for 6 million square feet of new construction, including academic, athletic, research and office space, over the next 10 years and beyond. Private and public development will drastically alter the U District’s skyline.  Seattle’s booming economy means neighborhoods across the city are experiencing the opportunities and pain of prosperity. All of this leaves me wondering: What will these changes mean for the unique character and community of the neighborhood? What scenes will form the backdrop for iconic moments in the lives of future UW students?

Right now, the scale of the change is still somewhat in limbo. Most of the development so far has happened in spots that were gas stations and parking lots.

Continue reading at UW Magazine

Originally written by Misty Shock Rule for UW Magazine.
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