The project is part of the NewHolly redevelopment, “a mid-1990s initiative by the Seattle Housing Authority to replace aging public housing projects with mixed-income housing. Though housing advocates feared the initiative would displace low-income residents, neighborhood organizations and business groups in Othello and elsewhere largely welcomed the shift to mixed-income housing projects, which they hoped would encourage more economic diversity.”
Speaking as a near 80 year old, fifty years ago my wife and I moved into Capital Hill BECAUSE it was close to the vibrancy of the Central Area.  The Othello project will capitalize on that need by today’s young, affluent Seattlites too.  The business community agrees. ” If Othello Square succeeds, its underlying model could be “replicated both locally and nationally” in other communities struggling with affordability and gentrification, says Jake McKinstry, a principal at Seattle-based Spectrum Development Solutions, which is building one of four buildings on the site with local real estate investment firm Laird Norton Properties.”

“Investors’ reluctance faded in the years leading up to the opening of the Othello light-rail station, in 2009. Lured by a new vision of Othello as a bedroom community for high-earning downtown workers, investors and developers flocked to the neighborhood to buy property around the station and along Martin Luther King Way South.”

The obvious worry is that a building along the light rail corridor will drive up both land prices and construction costs.  That obsession makes no sense in a city that needs more housing at all levels.  Upscale apartments, aka gentrification, is the only way for investors to recover their costs but development by the city or non-profits does not need the burden of making a profit. Moreover, done well such a mixed profit/nonprofit model will attract the kind of community that Seattle is losing

There is more to be done here.  The Seattle Public Schools needs to market itself as more than schools for the poor.  Citing schools like this new charter or other magnets in an area where housing is being developed in an attractive way will .. as they say ..”build it and they will come.”   Open spaces and parks matter as well.  Children need play areas, families need movie theaters.  Finally, transit .. not just bike lanes for the ohso liberal condecenti of Seattle, meaning that people can either have no car or leave the car home and get to work downtown.  Development needs to include public transit away from the light rail core and the city needs to incentivize the development of local shopping centers.

Some of us remember these ideas .. perhaps the City Council and Mayor should ask Norm Rice to explain how this is done?

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  1. Mark Adams #

    This months National Geographic is on cities. Whole article about the newest city design. High urban density surrounded by green areas. Even farming in buildings and in the city.

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