The Ultimate Guide to Seattle’s Urban Villages

May 21, 2018

What Are Urban Villages?

Urban Villages” is a phrase that’s been tossed around by the city of Seattle planning officials and residents alike. It’s an increasingly common term which references the way our city is changing to meet the demands of heightened growth in recent years.

According to a comprehensive plan titled Urban Village Element first published in 2005:

“Urban villages are community resources that enable the City to: deliver services more equitably, pursue a development pattern that is environmentally and economically sound, and provide a better means of managing growth and change through collaboration with the community in planning for the future of these areas.”

In other words, Urban Villages are self-sufficient neighborhood hubs designed to provide housing and employment near public transportation. They are the City of Seattle’s solution to accommodating future growth and creating a sustainable city. They’re designed to be a combination of housing, employment, ample transportation, services, walkability, and enhancements to the natural environment.

Where Are They Located?

In 2017, the Housing Affordability and Living Agenda (HALA) created six Urban Villages across Seattle to test out the program. The rezoning occurred in neighborhoods across U District, downtown Seattle, Chinatown International District, and in the Central Area. In these areas, developers are allowed to build more and higher, allowing for a higher level of density in these areas.

Moving forward, Urban Villages are expected to be developed in many neighborhoods including Ballard, Greenwood-Phinney Ridge, Northgate, Wallingford, Uptown, Capitol Hill, Beacon Hill, Columbia City, and more.

Related Article: How Does Seattle’s Mandatory Housing Affordability Affect the Housing Market?

To see all the areas expected to experience zoning changes, you can view the interactive map here. It breaks each neighborhood down by the level of displacement risk involved.

How Do They Affect Me?

As you hear about the proposed zoning changes in the news, you might be thinking: “how does all this affect me and my home?”

To be fair, it’s a great point. The whole idea behind these rezones is to:

  1. Provide more room for growth in our quickly expanding city
  2. Force developers to include more affordable housing in their builds.

However, one question that pops up with current residents is, “what about us?”

Related Article: 3 Ways Rezoning Boosts Affordable Housing in Seattle

The Concerns

There are many concerns regarding the effects these changes will have on the neighborhoods that are already there. First of all, many long-time (and even some short-time) Seattle residents have acknowledged our inefficient public transportation. We don’t have a sophisticated subway system like many large cities do. Plus, our expanded light rail is still years away from the completion.

This means driving is still the best way to get around the city – especially for those who don’t live in the immediate downtown Seattle area. People who need to drive have cars and cars need somewhere to park when they’re not in use. Therefore, parking (or lack thereof) is a major concern as developers build more homes and less parking to go with them.

Other concerns include the loss of trees, grass, and dirt, as well as changes in the general dynamic and character of each neighborhood.

The Benefits

On the other hand, these changes come with many benefits as well. For one, Urban Villages and Mandatory Housing Affordability are designed to create more, and cheaper, housing. For Millennials and people who don’t work in Seattle’s highly coveted tech-positions, this is crucial to maintaining a diverse city that’s friendly to more than just those making $200K+.

Related Article: The Pros and Cons of Upzoning in Seattle

Additionally, depending on where you live, these upzones have potential to increase property values as previously single-family-zoned properties are rezoned to multi-family ones. This provides current homeowners with the opportunity to make some cash and move on to the next stage of their life. We’ve had the opportunity to assist many homeowners with this transition, especially in the Shoreline area which is experiencing major zoning changes in the next few years.

If you’d like to find out how much your property could be worth to a real estate investor, request an offer from our team today. We may provide you with a cash offer for your house and give you the chance to move on to the next stage of your journey.

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