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Seattle City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen presents legislation to protect character structures on Capitol Hill

Councilmember Tom Rasmussen

Seattle City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen presents legislation to protect character structures on Capitol Hill

Seattle – Today Councilmember Tom Rasmussen announced introduction of legislation that will establish a Transfer of Development Potential (TDP) program within the Pike/Pine neighborhood of Capitol Hill. The legislation will provide an additional incentive to maintain the neighborhood’s unique “character structures” (buildings that are at least 75 years old).

The proposed TDP program would provide a way to move development rights from “sending” sites to “receiving” sites within the Pike/Pine neighborhood.  Sending sites are properties from which the unused development rights are sold and transferred. Once the development rights are sold, they are no longer available to be used on the sending site for future redevelopment. Funds from the sale of transferred development rights may be used to maintain or improve the structure on the sending site, and the owner of the sending site must agree to preserve the character building for at least 50 years. 

Once purchased, the development rights are transferred to a receiving site.  The receiving site must be located in an area where the proposal would allow the transferred floor area to be added to a new project by permitting 10 additional feet of height and increased density above the limits otherwise allowed for projects not using TDP.  The transferred rights may be used for only housing, not for commercial purposes.  In short, the development rights purchased from an existing structure on the sending site are “transferred” to add floor area to a new project on the receiving site.

“Pike/Pine is one of the most unique and vibrant neighborhoods in Seattle,” said Councilmember Tom Rasmussen. “The smaller and historic buildings are the home to many locally owned businesses, restaurants and nightclubs. The Transfer of Development Potential legislation strengthens our efforts to retain its character and attractiveness.”

The TDP proposal is the last part of a three-part project to retain the unique character of the Pike/Pine neighborhood. Phase I (completed in June 2009) expanded the Pike/Pine Overlay District, renamed it to add “Conservation” to its title, and added incentives to encourage new projects to retain existing character structures and to provide spaces for small businesses and arts facilities.

Phase II (completed in September 2010) adopted revised Neighborhood Design Guidelines for new and remodeled buildings in the Pike/Pine neighborhood to support conservation goals.

The draft legislation will be referred to the Committee on the Built Environment which will be briefed on the proposal on July 27 and hold a Public Hearing on August 15.

The draft legislation and other background documents are available for review online.

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