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According to The Seattle Times, the city council recently approved a major expansion for The University of Washington that will include high rise buildings and an innovation district. The school is planning to add up to 6 million square feet of new construction to accommodate an increase of more than 7000 students and faculty it expects to add over the next ten years.

When council members gave preliminary approval to the plan in September, they included a condition that the UW build at least 450 units of affordable housing for its lower-wage employees. The university subsequently agreed to build the housing but asked that the legislation treat the construction as voluntary rather than required. The council changed the legislation to reflect that, avoiding a potential legal battle with the UW over the provision.

An alliance of neighborhood associations, environmental groups and labor unions pushed for the driving and housing requirements.Councilmember Rob Johnson, who spearheaded the council’s consideration of the master plan, said the growth would help the UW advance economic opportunity for Seattle residents.

Councilmember Kshama Sawant voted to approve the plan, citing “small benefits to the public.” But in doing so she criticized the university for not building more affordable housing. She called 450 units a “paltry number when you consider the actual need.”

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