The University of Washington (UW) is about to get a lot bigger thanks to an approval from a key City Council committee. The soon-to-be larger Seattle campus will also be adding housing and a high-rise “innovation district.” The approval comes with conditions that UW attempt to reduce commuting by car and build at least 450 housing units for its lower-wage employees.
The university is working from a master plan calling for the addition of 6 million square feet of academic, athletic, research and office space over the next 10 years and beyond. Neighborhood associations, advocacy organizations and unions have expressed concerns that the growth will add traffic and actually make housing problems worse.
Before voting unanimously to advance the university’s plan for consideration at Monday’s full City Council meeting, Councilmembers Rob Johnson, Mike O’Brien and Lisa Herbold made several adjustments. Under their version of the plan, the UW would need to have no more than 12 percent of its students and employees commute by driving alone by 2028. The university had proposed 15 percent.
All three council members supported the change, and they further amended the UW’s plan by lowering a campus cap on parking by thousands of stalls.Also under the committee’s version, the UW would need to build 450 units of affordable housing for its lower-wage employees.The university has volunteered to build 150 units while saying the city lacks the authority to impose a housing requirement.