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Mayor Durkan Applauds City Council’s Unanimous Passage of Legislation to Authorize Acquisition of Land in South Park for Affordable Housing

Legislation advances City efforts to achieve community-led equitable development and environmental justice goals 

Mayor Jenny A. Durkan’s legislation authorizing the Office of Housing to acquire two parcels in South Park for affordable housing development was passed unanimously by City Council today. Council Bill 120114 requires the housing developed on these parcels to be affordable to households making at or below 60 percent of area median income (AMI) which is equivalent to $69,400 for a family of four and $48,600 for an individual. Mayor Durkan plans to sign the legislation this week.  

Since 2016 the City has worked closely with community-based organizations in South Park, including Duwamish Valley Affordable Housing Coalition (DVAHC) and Duwamish River Clean-Up Coalition (DRCC), to understand the community’s vision for the rapidly changing neighborhood where many residents and businesses are feeling the pressures of displacement. The Duwamish Valley Action Plan, stewarded by the Office of Sustainability and Environment, outlines the community’s anti-displacement and environmental justice goals. 

“Our housing crisis has impacted every neighborhood in our City and we are called to use every tool available to address it with the urgency that this crisis demands,” said Mayor Durkan, “Most importantly, I want to congratulate the tireless South Park advocates who continue to push the City to make their vision of an equitable future a reality. South Park will be changed for generations to come because of the work of our community leaders who have been on the forefront of leading new investments in housing, environmental justice, and infrastructure.”  

“When I consider what this property acquisition will mean for this community it is almost impossible to overstate it,” said Robin Schwartz, member of the Duwamish Valley Affordable Housing Coalition. “It means that neighbors new and old can feel cared for, safe, and they can see that our systemic practices match our words.” 

“I am really thankful to Mayor Durkan and the Office of Housing for a bold and responsive action to support this urgent investment in our local vision for housing justice, rooted in racial and environmental justice,” said Paulina López, Executive Director of the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition. 

In direct response to the community’s stated vision, future development on these parcels will include units with two or more bedrooms to accommodate larger households and utilize Community Preference to support those most impacted by displacement. Plans for the development may also include community-oriented space on the ground floor, with additional goals to incorporate water- and energy-efficient sustainable building practices. Following the property closing, the Office of Housing will continue community outreach and engagement to inform a Request for Proposals (RFP) to select an owner and operator for the affordable housing. 

In addition to this land acquisition for affordable housing development, the following are recent and upcoming major City investments in South Park: 

Seattle Parks & Recreation (SPR)

  • Duwamish Waterway Park Improvements: SPR purchased the 1.3-acre site from King County after a community-led process to make the property a permanent neighborhood riverfront park.  
  • South Park Plaza: SPR and the design team are finalizing the design of this site, which includes an open lawn, primary event space, play elements, seating terraces, accessible pathways, bio-swales, irrigation, and landscape improvements. 
  • Marra Farm: Following extensive community engagement to develop a new design for an accessible multi-use park, SPR awarded the construction contract to A1 Landscaping & Construction earlier this year. 

Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) and Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT)

  • Drainage & Street Improvements: SPU and SDOT are partnering to build streets with drainage pipes in the northern industrial area of South Park. Construction will start in September. 
  • South Park Pump Station: To ensure the drainage pipes will function well with the tidal influence of the Duwamish River, SPU is currently constructing a pump station adjacent to the 7th Ave. S street end. 
  • West Seattle Bridge Closure: Residents of the Duwamish Valley have been heavily impacted by the West Seattle Bridge closure because of all the detour traffic moving through the neighborhoods. Community groups have worked closely with the City to identify projects to help mitigate environmental and safety impacts. 

Office of Planning & Community Development (OPCD)

  • Community-Supportive Services: OPCD awarded $1M to the Duwamish Valley Affordable Housing Coalition to support the identification and acquisition of land to community supportive services.