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    Saving the Pike-Pine Neighborhood Culture: Seattle City Council approves program to save character structures

    Councilmember Sally J. Clark
    Councilmember Tom Rasmussen

    Saving the Pike-Pine Neighborhood Culture
    Seattle City Council approves program to save character structures

    SEATTLE –The Seattle City Council passed C.B. 117235 today creating an additional financial incentive for owners of older, character buildings in the Pike-Pine District of Capitol Hill to preserve the buildings.

    The new Transfer of Development Potential (TDP) program allows owners of buildings that are at least 75 years old, (called character structures,) to sell the unused air-rights above their buildings to other property owners in the neighborhood if the owner of the sending site agrees to keep the older structures in place. The amount of air rights that a property owner can sell is generally the difference between the floor area of the existing building on the lot and the floor area that could be built in a new building developed to the maximum limits allowed by the zoning on the same lot.

    Many Pike-Pine businesses and residents have long feared that their neighborhood, Seattle’s original auto row, is threatened by redevelopment and destruction of the neighborhood’s history and culture. They’ve raised concerns that the art and culture that have made the neighborhood popular could be lost to insensitive redevelopment.

    Councilmember Sally Clark said, "Pike-Pine has been in jeopardy of becoming a victim of its own success. Artists, gay and lesbian bars, other small businesses, students and younger apartment dwellers made it so cool that developers couldn’t help but notice. We want to make sure that new development is a bonus for the area and doesn’t tear down the history and culture of Pike-Pine."

    The TDP program is the final phase of a three-part effort sponsored by the City Council to support appropriate scale new development and historic renovation in the Pike-Pine neighborhood.

    Councilmember Tom Rasmussen added, "First we strengthened the Pike-Pine Conservation Overlay District, to provide incentives for saving character structures and encourage spaces for arts facilities and small businesses. Then we revised the Neighborhood Design Guidelines to help ensure new construction fits in with the character of the neighborhood. Now we’re adding a new way to save existing buildings by allowing building owners to earn money if they keep their character structures."

    The City’s Department of Planning and Development estimates the TDP program could preserve as many as 10 character structures over a 20-year period.

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