This week, we’re bringing you a presentation from a King County utility striving for climate neutrality. Join us at GGLO on Friday at noon to learn how you can be a part of the sustainability cycle and  enrich your soil with an endlessly renewable resource at the same time.

King County produces Loop from solids extracted during the waste water treatment process. Using Loop as a soil amendment closes the nutrient loop wherein harvested plants take nutrients from soil, humans obtain nutrients from the plants, and then nutrients are returned to soil with Loop.

More information:

Kate Kurtz is a project manager for King County’s Loop biosoilds program.  She holds a bachelor’s degree from Barnard College of Columbia University and a Master’s degree in forest soils from University of Washington. Kate became interested in organics recycling and sustainable waste management solutions while working at Soil Control Lab in Watsonville, CA. As a graduate student, she focused on the long-term effects of compost and biosolids use, with particular emphasis on soil carbon sequestration and soil tilth. Recently she helped to co-found a Seattle-based urban farming collective, Alleycat Acres, which is a 100% volunteer operated organization that aims to reconnect people with food.




The top competitors for the contract to partner with Seattle Housing Authority in the redevelopment of Yesler Terrace have been announced.

The Seattle Housing Authority announced Tuesday it will partner with either Paul Allen real-estate firm Vulcan or Forest City Enterprises of Los Angeles on a proposed $300 million makeover of Yesler Terrace, a project unprecedented in scope and scale in the United States.

The housing authority solicited qualifications earlier this year for a master-development partner and three firms responded: Vulcan; Forest City; and Hunt Companies of El Paso, Texas.

Hunt was eliminated from consideration as a finalist after the authority reviewed its expertise in mixed-income, mixed-use projects.

Vulcan is known locally for its dramatic transformation of South Lake Union; the company said in its proposal it would approach Yesler Terrace in a very similar way.

Forest City, a 90-year-old publicly traded company, would partner with the Jonathan Rose Companies, which describes itself as a green real-estate firm headquartered in New York. Most of the two firms’ projects have been east of the Mississippi River. Combined they have developed 47,000 housing units and 17 million square feet of office space, including The Yards in Washington, D.C., and Central Station in Chicago.

“Either of these candidates will be an excellent partner,” said Andrew Lofton, the housing authority’s executive director. “There are very few firms that have the resources and deep expertise for an ambitious project such as the redevelopment of Yesler Terrace.” … (Continue Reading)

News of a successful neighborhood builder from South Lake Union making the short list for partnering with SHA to build Yesler Terrace, we wanted to take a look a little further south, to the South Lincoln Park neighborhood – not West Seattle, but Denver. A massive near-downtown mixed income community is taking shape there and may provide a preview of what is to come as Seattle redevelops a neighborhood capable of absorbing eight percent of the city’s overall growth over the next 15 years…

rendering of South Lincoln and Mariposa when built out (courtesy of Mithun)

Denver’s rejuvenated South Lincoln neighborhood, being redeveloped in phases, will be walkable, transit-oriented, equitable, green, and perfectly located in close proximity to downtown jobs and services.  It’s a terrific new model-in-the-making of how to revitalize older, distressed public housing sites in an ambitious yet sensitive way.  But what really sets the South Lincoln project apart from others is the outstanding predevelopment public engagement and analysis undertaken by the Denver Housing Authority to ensure that the new community will deliver maximum benefits to existing and new residents and neighbors.

South Lincoln public housing (via Google Earth)

Last month I wrote about the Denver Regional Equity Atlas, a compendium of maps and research showing how the city’s expanding transit system can be leveraged to bring opportunity to traditionally underserved populations.   A couple of weeks later, my collaborator Lee Epstein wrote an article about how we can use emerging technology to facilitate citizen participation in the design of sustainable communities.  Neither of us had the South Lincoln redevelopment in mind when we wrote those posts, but we certainly could have.  Now that I have had an opportunity to research the project, it’s hard to imagine a better illustration of the possible with regard to both subjects.

mural at Tapiz apartments (mural by GuerillaGarden, via fifty11)

An equitable neighborhood built around transit and walkable amenities

Anticipating full redevelopment of the 17.5-acre site by 2018, DHA will replace 182 outmoded apartments in an area of “concentrated poverty and physical distress,” to use the phrase of the Housing Authority’s Kimball Crangle in a presentation to the Urban Land Institute last year.  The new community will include 457 homes, including over 300 public housing residences, workforce homes and other affordable housing.  147 units will be made available at market rates, creating a mixed-income neighborhood.

Public and affordable housing will be available to households earning less than 80 percent of the area median income; workforce housing will be available to those earning 50 to 60 percent.  All homes will be within convenient walking distance of the neighborhood’s light rail station, expected nearby mixed uses, and a large city park that is receiving some significant upgrades.  By coordinating demolition and construction in phases, DHA will enable all residents to remain in the neighborhood during the redevelopment process.

The first new project to be completed in the neighborhood is a 100-unit, eight-story apartment building for seniors and disabled persons, constructed on a remediated brownfield site.  Expected to earn a LEED-platinum rating, the building features rooftop solar panels, an advanced green heating and cooling system, and graywater recycling; the landscaping in the adjacent right-of-way includes green infrastructure for stormwater management.

Apart from the green features, among the building’s tenants is a youth culinary academy providing job training.  And there’s fun, too:  Denver artist Jolt and his company GuerillaGarden created a 5,000-square-foot mural symbolizing community pride that stretches the full 90-foot height of one wall of the building.

The heart of the redeveloped neighborhood will be a multiple-building project called Mariposa.  Construction began earlier this year on the first Mariposa building, which in addition to affordable homes will host a 6,000-square-foot youth media studio created in conjunction with the Denver band Flobots.   Kelsey Whipple wrote in the Denver-based WestWord blog site that, as of April of this year, the band is still finalizing fundraising for the technologically advanced space, which will serve ”as a venue for lessons, workshops and performances in design, music and poetry.”  Mariposa Phase III, a mixed-income rental development comprising 81 apartments, six townhomes and 15,000 square feet of commercial and amenity space, is targeting LEED-ND and LEED building certification.  It is expected to achieve a 50 percent reduction in energy costs compared to standard practice… (More: Denver redevelopment sets new standards for community engagement & analysis | Kaid Benfield’s Blog | Switchboard, from NRDC).


We have said a lot about the opportunity before us in South Lake Union. If you need further motivation to get down to City Council today to lend your voice in support of the proposal in front of council, here is what some of Seattle’s best built-environment bloggers are saying about the proposal:

Seattle Transit Blog:

If we don’t build enough new housing to keep up with the demand from new residents, it pushes costs up for all housing, all the way down to the poorest of us. If we don’t allow density, our growth will come at the edges, worsening congestion and pressure on our transportation system, and contributing to climate change.

South Lake Union is possibly the perfect place to allow large increases in density…


We know that putting more jobs and people in underutilized, centrally located neighborhoods like South Lake Union is a strategy that has the potential to not only reduce our environmental footprint, but also provide significant social and economic benefits (see the South Lake Union Environmental Benefits Statement for the full story).

See you tonight!



Back in 1993, at a time when Seattle was still recovering from decades of population decline, planners were bracing for a massive influx of new residents.  “As the economy started to pick up, they were looking at significant growth and they said, Wait a minute. How do we want to do that?’” said Marshall Foster, Seattle’s current planning director…

[Fast forward!] From 1995 to the summer of 2012, the city added 52,000 households. Exactly 75 percent of that growth -– 39,000 households -– ended up in urban centers and villages… (How did that happen? Get the full story, including some sweet early nineties b-roll on



This is the “Placemaking & Seattle” video shown at Thursday’s Brown Bag Lunch discussion on the future of South Lake Union.

It is a great illustration of the opportunity before us, it is short and sweet at 7 minutes, and it features both James Howard Kunstler and our wonderful board member Jessie Israel! What’s not to like?


Thank you to everyone who joined us and participated in a great conversation about the future of South Lake Union today! Now, it is in your hands. Take a look at the handy background information below, from the City Council blog “Council Connection,” and be sure to show up to the hearing and voice your support for capturing the extraordinary opportunity before us in South Lake Union!

South Lake Union Rezone Hearing, November 14

City Council’s Planning, Land Use and Sustainability Committee will hold a public hearing on a proposed rezone for the South Lake Union Neighborhood on Wednesday, November 14 at 5:30 p.m.the City Council Chambers, on the 2nd floor of City Hall at 600 4thAvenue, between Cherry and James.

The proposed rezone would increase maximum building heights for commercial and residential buildings, and allow additional height for residential buildings through incentives.

The largest change would increase allowable heights from 40 to 240 feet near the south end of Lake Union for residential development, with incentives. The maps below show current zoning on the left, and proposed zoning on the right (click for a larger picture).

Additional details are available at the DPD website, which contains links to a summary of the proposal, a longer presentation, and the Director’s Report.

An earlier hearing was held on July 24.

Proposed South Lake Union Zoning

Current South Lake Union Zoning


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