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Seattle City Councilmember Bruce Harrell

Archive for January 16th, 2010

Jan 16 2010

Taller Buildings for a Portion of South Lake Union

On Monday, January 11, 2010, the Council voted 7-1 to permit taller buildings in a small portion of the South Lake Union neighborhood. I abstained from the Council vote because of the potential that an “appearance” of a conflict of interest could have been suggested had I participated. My wife Joanne Harrell was appointed by Governor Gregoire to sit on the University Of Washington Board Of Regents and the expansion in issue directly affects the University of Washington Medical Center. The Board of Regents may ultimately pass judgment on this issue and I did not want to jeopardize any decisions made by the Council.

The passage of this “text amendment” permits some buildings to go as high as 120 feet. The previous limit was 65 feet. However, if a development met certain biotech criteria, a height of 85 feet was permitted. A majority of the Council believed passing the “text amendment” was necessary to accommodate development that will attract federal research grant money. This is one of those issues where not everyone will be happy with the outcome. However, this new facility will serve as a key driver of the economic development of South Lake Union’s burgeoning biotech sector. My goal will be to continue to work with the neighborhood communities such that their commonsensical and logical needs for meaningful public open space and construction designs that are truly neighborhood-friendly are met.

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