AIA Seattle Helps Pass Landmark New Code

This week the Seattle City Council unanimously adopted a comprehensive update to how buildings are developed in Seattle’s low-rise multifamily zones. These changes will allow for more variety in housing types, improved open space use, incentives for green building, and improvement in building design.

The multifamily code update was adopted after substantial rounds of review and feedback from neighbors, architects, builders, and other design professionals.

AIA Seattle has long been a proponent of these code changes. AIA members David Neiman, Brandon Nicholson, Bradley Khouri, and AIA Seattle staff have worked tirelessly for two years to get this code legislation passed.

The new code should prevent most of the features that inspired the majority of neighborhood complaints by creating a new Streamlined Design Review (SDR) process that will allow for closer scrutiny of project design.

Among other changes the new code will:

  • Encourage a diversity of housing types among them: townhomes, row houses, cottages, apartments, and auto-court townhomes;

  • Require new design features. For example: At least 20% of street facing façades must be windows and doors, building materials must be varied, townhouse parking garages must be designed to fit large cars;

  • Incentivize “green building” and hiding parking underground or at the back of the lot;

  • Use Seattle's “Green Factor” landscaping requirement, thus keeping trees/planting new ones;

  • Allow for shared open space, for larger usable common areas;

  • Waive parking requirements for projects in growth areas and within .25 mile of frequent transit service, allowing the market to dictate the level of parking needed

  • Waive density limits for certain housing types when good design features are achieved.

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