New approach strengthens protections for existing industrial and maritime lands; supports transit-oriented job growth in innovation centers near future light rail stations; supports smaller-scale industrial businesses and opportunities for maker spaces near residential areas; and creates opportunities for new housing.
Seattle – Mayor Bruce Harrell announced new legislation to update the City’s industrial lands policy and zoning to create an estimated 35,000 new jobs and 3,000 new homes over the next 20 years. The mayor’s proposal – the first major update to industrial land use policy in decades – creates pathways to careers in industrial and maritime businesses, strengthens land-use protections for existing industries, prepares for growth near light rail, and supports improved environmental quality for area residents.
“Our city was founded and flourished on the strength of our industrial and maritime sectors – Seattle’s future requires maintaining and building upon these critical economic cornerstones,” said Mayor Bruce Harrell. “Developed in collaboration with neighbors and leaders in these fields, this proposal advances key shared priorities: A diversified economy with industries and jobs accessible to people of all backgrounds, critically needed new affordable housing, and a more sustainable city for generations to come.”
The mayor’s proposed legislation would establish three new industrial zones:
Maritime, Manufacturing and Logistics (MML) – This zone would strengthen land use protections for core and legacy industrial and maritime areas to better prevent the encroachment of other developments, such as mini-storage and big box stores, that are incompatible with industrial and maritime uses. This zone is particularly applicable near the shoreline or deep-water port, rail and freight infrastructure, and around existing clusters of industrial or maritime suppliers and services.
Industry and Innovation (II) – This zone would encourage new development in multi-story buildings that accommodate industrial businesses mixed with other dense employment uses such as research, design, offices, and technology through a system of density bonuses. Modern industrial development would support high-density employment near Sound Transit light rail stations and commercial areas.
Urban Industrial (UI) – This zone would aim to increase employment and entrepreneurship opportunities with a vibrant mix of affordable, small-scale places for light industry, makers, and creative arts, as well as industry-supporting ancillary retail or housing spaces to create better, integrated, and healthier transitions along the edges between industrial areas and neighboring urban villages, residential, and mixed-use areas in Georgetown, South Park, and Ballard.
Councilmember Dan Strauss (District 6) said, “The Maritime and Industrial Strategy has been worked on for years, creating consensus within a group of stakeholders who often hold opposite opinions. Mayor Harrell and his team crafted a balanced proposal that protects both our maritime and industrial lands while supporting the flexibility needed to keep up with emerging industrial needs. Our maritime and industrial businesses buoy our economy in downturns and remain a vital part of our city’s fabric. When looking at Fisherman’s Terminal, every fishing vessel you see is a small business directly employing hundreds of people. More broadly, those businesses ripple throughout our economy and indirectly employ thousands in our community. I am thankful for the additional protections this bill provides to the lands that support these workers and many other family-wage industries.”
The proposed zoning would incentivize about 3,000 additional homes, of which approximately 2,100 would be in mixed-use development outside of industrial areas in Georgetown, Judkins Park, South Park, and Ballard. These homes would generate approximately $20 Million for affordable housing through the City’s Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) program. The remaining 900 would be industry-supportive housing in the new Urban Industrial zone in the form of caretakers’ quarters, maker studios, or conditional-use apartment buildings in which at least half of the homes would be affordable to households with incomes at 90% of Area Median Income or below.
For more details of the proposal, see the Director’s Report. The Seattle Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD) completed its environmental study of the proposed land use changes last year.
“Seattle’s industrial and maritime stakeholders and nearby neighborhood residents have spent countless hours working with our staff to develop this meaningful update to our City’s industrial policy,” said Rico Quirindongo, acting director of OPCD. “We are laying the groundwork for more diverse employment opportunities in our city, support for complete, walkable neighborhoods, and a stronger future for advanced manufacturing, applied technology, trade, and maritime businesses in Seattle.”
In November 2019, the Industrial and Maritime Strategy Council of more than 60 stakeholders began its work to update industrial land use policy for the first time in decades. The council was comprised of representatives from traditional and emerging industrial and maritime businesses, labor, developers, workforce development professionals, and community representatives from neighborhoods near industrial areas to consider the future of Seattle’s Manufacturing Industrial Centers. The Industrial and Maritime Strategy Council released 11 strategies to support the next generation of industrial and maritime jobs in June 2021.
Efforts continue to implement additional strategies to support Seattle’s industrial maritime economy. Ongoing work includes:
Collaboration with stakeholders to identify freight transportation improvements.
Establishing a new citywide industrial and maritime business advocacy and stewardship organization.
Adopting new subarea plans for the Ballard-Interbay-Northend and Greater Duwamish Maritime Industrial Centers.
Maritime and manufacturing activities have long benefitted Seattle by contributing to the city’s identity, supporting living-wage jobs, and promoting economic diversity to provide broader employment stability across industry sectors. Seattle contains approximately 7,000 acres of industrial lands (11% of the city’s total area) that generate nearly 100,000 critical living-wage jobs, of which two-thirds are accessible without a four-year college degree. Seattle’s maritime industrial economy is supported by the Port of Seattle’s cargo terminals and connecting infrastructure; manufacturing facilities in the Duwamish Valley, Elliott Bay, Lake Union, and Ballard; and the nation’s largest fishing fleet at Fisherman’s Terminal, which is sewn into the fabric of Seattle culture.
WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING
Port of Seattle Commissioner Ryan Calkins
“The Mayor’s approach strikes the right balance between protecting lands that generate jobs and revenue, and creating housing in neighborhoods that offer a quality of life that residents deserve. The timing is perfect. The Port and so many of our tenants are working towards business and environmental goals that require new infrastructure and capital development. We appreciate Mayor Harrell for seizing this opportunity for the region’s future.”
Erin Goodman, Executive Director, SODO Business Improvement Area
“Seattle industry remains firmly entrenched in SODO with robust maritime and aerospace related services, and it has evolved markedly over the last thirty years to include a broader array of sectors that include transportation equipment, forest products, food processing, advanced technology in computer software, biotechnology, electronics, medical equipment, environmental engineering, cannabis production, freight and packaging, wineries and breweries, rail services, and more. Updates to policies to better reflect current economic conditions are welcomed and needed for SODO to thrive.”
Ted Lehmann, Stack Family Properties
“Speaking on behalf of a number of property owners in SODO near the Lander Station, this legislation is a useful first step in addressing the pressing needs for new zoning in and around Light Rail Stations in our industrial lands. It will incentivize commercial Transportation Oriented Development and create new economic opportunities for Seattle. We want to thank OPCD and the Mayor’s Office for keeping us informed and look forward to continuing a productive dialogue on further changes incentivizing additional mixed-use development where appropriate in the industrial lands.”
Jordan Royer, Pacific Merchant Shipping Association
“Maritime businesses are a critical part of Seattle’s economy, providing good paying jobs and logistics services. We appreciate the Mayor’s leadership in ensuring Industrial and Maritime land is protected into the future.”
Herald Ugles, President, International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 19
“The current proposal has many strong protections for industrial and maritime land, and we appreciate that housing has been excluded from the Stadium Area Overlay District. The Stadium Area includes essential freight routes such as SR-519 including Edgar Martinez Way and 1st Avenue South which are the critical links to I-5 and I-90 for manufacturers North, South, and our agriculture exporters to the East of Seattle. Port facilities connected by SR-519, are literally 3 stop lights from I-90 with a final destination of Boston, Massachusetts – connecting our Port with the heartland of our country. These critical freight corridors through the Stadium District must be protected and maintained.”
Greg Vaughn, Interbay Property Owner
“Our City is about to see an incredible investment in transit infrastructure. As we think about the overlay of light rail in and near industrial areas, it’s a huge opportunity to create employment-dense industrial and commercial uses near transit. This approach is good for employees, good for employers, and good for the planet. We’re especially excited to be part of reimagining how Interbay could be a place for Seattleites to work and play.”