Seattle City Council approves Yesler Terrace redevelopment legislation

Home » Seattle City Council approves Yesler Terrace redevelopment legislation

Council President Sally J. Clark
Councilmember Sally Bagshaw
Councilmember Tim Burgess
Councilmember Richard Conlin
Councilmember Jean Godden
Councilmember Bruce Harrell
Councilmember Nick Licata
Councilmember Mike O’Brien
Councilmember Tom Rasmussen


Seattle City Council approves Yesler Terrace redevelopment legislation
Comprehensive legislation lays the groundwork to improve neighborhood for low-income residents

SEATTLE — The Seattle City Council voted unanimously today to approve legislation allowing the Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) to redevelop the 22-acre Yesler Terrace public housing neighborhood.

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.

Council President Sally J. Clark 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 make sure that Yesler evolves into a greater urban neighborhood for more residents."

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.

"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 Redevelopment project will be added to this list as a careful, thoughtful, and prudent project that will make a big difference in many people’s lives."

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.

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 Council modified the Mayor’s proposed cooperative agreement between SHA and the City to improve the project and provide further safeguards for residents of Yesler Terrace. Of the 20 amendments to the cooperative agreement the Council passed, several were imposed to further protect Yesler Terrace tenants, improve the quality of the neighborhood and to increase the amount of low-income housing created:

  • SHA is required to use all proceeds from the sale of land for infrastructure and low-income housing in the Yesler Terrace neighborhood. 
  • If SHA gets more than it needs to pay for the infrastructure and low-income housing, additional funding will pay for up to 100 more units for very-low income residents (households that make no more than 30% of area median income).
  • Housing built east of Boren in the early stages of the project must include units for low-income residents.
  • If a tenant has a dispute, SHA is required to work with the Yesler Terrace Community Council and the Citizens Review Council to resolve the matter.
  • If future Housing Levy dollars are requested for Yesler Terrace, any funds will be awarded through the regular Housing Levy Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) process.
  • SHA must work with community organizations that assist women- and minority-owned businesses and economically disadvantaged individuals to obtain employment through Section 3 hiring, apprenticeship programs and equal opportunity programs.

"Our vision for Yesler Terrace is to improve the quality of life for all who choose to live, work, and play there," said Councilmember Sally Bagshaw. "This new community will foster understanding for generations among our children, seniors, those who speak English and those who don’t. It will provide access to jobs, schools, transportation, medical care and more. It’s a vision that has been years in the making. I am proud today to say Yes to Yesler."

"Since its inception, Yesler Terrace has fostered a unique community, allowing thousands of Seattleites to create a home and raise children near the heart of downtown.  I’m thrilled to see residents get the improvements they deserve in order to continue to thrive," said Councilmember Jean Godden. "Additionally, I am committed to ensuring that the voices of communities impacted by the change continue to guide the redevelopment process."

"Today’s vote is an important step towards creating more healthy, affordable housing in Seattle. I am committed to continuing to work with SHA and Friends of Little Saigon to ensure that this is a project that benefits not just Yesler Terrace residents but the surrounding communities as well," added Councilmember Mike O’Brien.

"As Civil Rights chair, I believe we must work inclusively with this diverse community and reassure the 1,200 residents who include 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."

"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."

"This exciting project will rebuild badly needed low-income housing for current residents and generations to come," said Andrew J. Lofton, Executive Director of Seattle Housing Authority.  "We’ve enjoyed collaborating with the City Council, Mayor and many others to develop this plan, and we’re excited to move forward."

For more information on the proposed Yesler Terrace redevelopment plans, visit

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