Vulcan towers near Lake Union should be shorter and slimmer than proposed, said three Seattle City Council members in a joint statement today.
Nick Licata, Tom Rasmussen and Sally Bagshaw said they want Vulcan’s three proposed towers limited to 160 feet, or roughly 16 stories, not the 240 feet, or 24 stories, proposed by Mayor Mike McGinn.
Licata said a majority of the nine-member council will probably support the proposal. “I don’t have solid numbers now because council members are saying they’re supportive” but it’s not certain until they vote, Licata said.
Three 160-foot towers would provide better public views of Lake Union and less shadowing on Lake Union Park, Licata said.
“My goal is to minimize the effect of the towers on Lake Union Park,” Rasmussen said. Bagshaw said 160-foot towers would advance goals for more dense development “without sacrificing space and openness.”
Vulcan executive Lori Mason Curran said nixing 240-foot towers seems counter to investments and policies the council has supported to make South Lake Union a more dense and vibrant neighborhood.
Mason Curran, Vulcan’s director of investment strategy, also said the council shouldn’t be focused on height per se, but what will create the best streetscape in the area.
Under the mayor’s proposal, Vulcan could go from the current 65-foot limit near the lake to 160 feet by paying so-called bonus fees for public benefits such as affordable housing. To reach 240-feet, Vulcan would have to provide extraordinary public benefit in the council’s eyes.
Council members shelved a proposed land deal, called Block 59, that would have allowed Vulcan to build 240-foot towers near the lake. But that still leaves the option of 240-towers open, if Vulcan provided special public benefits.
Mason Curran wonders if a majority of council members are willing to forgo an extraordinary benefit and limit the towers to 16 stories.
“In order to go to 160 you still have to provide public benefits,” Rasmussen said. “There will be fewer potentially but they will still be required.”
Rasmussen said he’s still supportive of tall buildings and increased density in the city and South Lake Union. “But there is a place for them and this is not the place,” he said.