MASSIVE REDEVELOPMENT projects in Seattle and Los Angeles obtained key approvals recently. In Seattle, the city council in June approved a streetcar line from downtown to the South Lake Union area; private property owners along the 2.6-mile line will pay the majority of the cost.

One of the country's largest redevelopment projects, South Lake Union is spearheaded by Microsoft Corp. co-founder Paul Allen, who envisions it as a biotechnology industry hub. Proponents say it will quadruple jobs in the area and bring in $1 billion-plus in taxes over two decades.

Critics, however, say the city is financing South Lake Union while ignoring infrastructure needs in other neighborhoods. “The mayor is pouring tens of millions into [the area] to accommodate one of the richest men in the world,” says John Fox, coordinator of the Seattle Displacement Center.

In Los Angeles, the $1.8 billion Grand Avenue downtown redevelopment is progressing with less friction, largely because of private funding. While critics have debated architectural and urban space issues, Grand Avenue has avoided much of the acrimony seen in Seattle. In May, the master plan by New York City–based The Related Cos. won unanimous approval.

The mixed-use plan includes up to 3.5 million square feet of development anchored by a 16-acre park. Supporters say it will generate 5,300 jobs and produce $28 million a year in government revenue.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE SEATTLE AND L.A. REDEVELOPMENT PROJECTS, VISIT OUR WEB SITE AT WWW.BUILDERONLINE.COM, CLICK ON “THE MAGAZINE” TAB, AND THEN CLICK ON “BUILDER ARTICLE LINKS.”

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Seattle, WA, Los Angeles, CA.