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Half of Seattle’s new homes built within steps of Downtown jobs, transit

Seattle added homes at rapid pace in 2017, with more than 88 percent of the city’s 8,753 net new homes built in Seattle’s urban centers and urban villages within walking distance of jobs, transit services, neighborhood businesses, and other amenities. Downtown is seeing the fastest housing growth, with half of all new Seattle homes built in or near the Downtown core.

Since the City began tracking annual housing production in 1980, no year has seen more construction of new homes than 2017. The City of Seattle’s most recent permitting and construction data were published in the year-end Urban Center / Village Growth Report.

Seattle’s urban villages are identified in the Seattle 2035 Comprehensive Plan as the places to guide future population growth, a policy established in 1994. The Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD) notes that recent housing growth is even more focused in Seattle’s densest urban centers. Only 12 percent of homes were built in areas outside of the city’s urban villages last year, with fewer homes built in these areas in 2017 (1,030) than the year prior (1,119).

“Seattle’s urban village strategy guides more housing choices to areas served by good transit, community services, and shops with easy access from home,” said OPCD Director Sam Assefa. “We will continue to make investments in parks, transit, and other critical infrastructure to support the livability of our fastest-growing neighborhoods. And we will continue to implement Mandatory Housing Affordability and other solutions that support affordable housing, so that people who work in Seattle can live in Seattle, regardless of income.”

The Seattle neighborhoods with the most new homes in 2017 were:

  • Belltown (1,191 new homes constructed)
  • South Lake Union (1,045)
  • Denny Triangle (767)
  • Commercial Core (607)

Looking ahead to future development, buildings containing 21,434 homes have received permits, but have not yet been completed. More than 81 percent of these future homes will be in urban villages close to transit and neighborhood commercial areas. The areas with the most homes in the pipeline are:

  • South Lake Union (3,068 units permitted)
  • Denny Triangle (1,227)
  • First Hill (1,180)

In 1994, the City Council approved Seattle’s first Comprehensive Plan prepared under the state Growth Management Act, including the urban village strategy which guides growth to neighborhoods with more transit options. That strategy has been effective in locating more than 78 percent of new housing in urban villages and urban centers over the past two decades.

Seattle’s new Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) program will require that all new multifamily residential and commercial development contribute to affordable housing, either by including income-restricted affordable homes or making a payment to the City’s fund to support affordable housing. To put MHA into effect, the City makes zoning changes that add development capacity and increase housing choices. MHA has already been implemented in Downtown, South Lake Union, the University District, Chinatown-International District, Uptown, and along 23rd Ave in the Central Area, ensuring that future permitted projects contribute to affordable housing. The City Council is currently considering zoning changes necessary to implement MHA in all other urban villages and multifamily residential and commercial zones in Seattle.