Seattle releases report on South Lake Union evolution, public-private investment
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Seattle releases report on South Lake Union evolution, public-private investment

SEATTLE, WA – July 9, 2012 – (RealEstateRama) — Today Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and Seattle City Councilmember Richard Conlin released a report Public & Private Investments in South Lake Union that examines the relationship between public sector actions and private investment decisions in South Lake Union and how they have contributed to job growth and economic development.

“South Lake Union has been an engine for job growth and new housing, helping Seattle recover from the recession,” said McGinn. “The City’s role has been crucial in helping support these new jobs. That work continues. The South Lake Union rezone proposal will help support up to 22,000 new jobs and up to 12,000 new households, including affordable housing, preservation of existing housing and open space, and other community benefits.”    

The report describes South Lake Union’s evolution as a neighborhood and evaluates community impact that resulted from public actions and how these spurred private investment decisions in South Lake Union. The intent of the study is to develop a deeper understanding of how the South Lake Union neighborhood has changed and what economic development lessons can be learned from the South Lake Union example.

“I was initially skeptical about some of the grand plans to transform South Lake Union into a regional public health/technology powerhouse. But the numbers demonstrate that targeted public investments and forward-thinking policy decisions actually did make a tremendous difference in shaping the future of that neighborhood,” said Councilmember Richard Conlin, Chair of the Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability Committee. “The lessons learned about how our early actions primed the pump for job growth and economic prosperity will inform our consideration of the proposed South Lake Union rezone legislation and other infrastructure investments in the neighborhood.”

A few of the highlights from the report about the increase in jobs, development and tax revenues:

  • Today, South Lake Union has an estimated 23,000 jobs.
  • South Lake Union’s share of Seattle’s total employment has also increased over time. From 1995 to 2010, Seattle added a net 34,000 jobs, and South Lake Union represents 1 in 10 of those jobs, indicating the neighborhood is increasingly a major drive of economic opportunity.
  • Since 1995, 12.5 million square feet of multi-family, office, biotech, and retail space has been developed in South Lake Union.
  • Between 2000 and 2011 development in the South Lake Union urban center accounted for over $155 million of the City of Seattle’s revenues and estimates an additional $356 million in revenues between 2012 and 2022.

City actions to support economic development in South Lake Union include:

  • Coordination and implementation of local, regional, and statewide comprehensive land use and transportation planning efforts over the past 30 years ago.
  • Regional planning efforts which gave a broad regional framework designed to concentrate growth in urban areas, and reinforced those regional plans in the City’s comprehensive plans.
  • Implementation of zoning changes in South Lake Union to attract specific uses and tenants, specifically in the life sciences and high technology.
  • Supporting and investing in public infrastructure and amenities in the neighborhood, such as the Streetcar, Cascade Park, Lake Union Park, and the Mercer Corridor.

“South Lake Union has transformed into a high density, mixed-use urban neighborhood providing jobs, housing and public amenities to a wide range of people,” said Michael Hodgins, finance and economics practice manager at BERK. “The City actions detailed in this report created the environment for private investment that has led to the gains in employment, housing, and tax revenue we see today.”

The report was commissioned by the Office of Economic Development and completed by BERK and Heartland LLC

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Aaron Pickus  (206) 684-4000
Karin Zaugg Black  (206)733-9810


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