Skip to content

A Tool for Bigger Thinking

2013 March 14
by Forterra

NOTE: The following post contributed by Forterra is part of a series from advocacy groups supporting the proposed rezone in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood.


Whether from an economic, transportation, housing, or ecological perspective, the central Puget Sound is interconnected.  Yet we often divide our region into its component parts—from counties to neighborhoods—to achieve focused outcomes.  Doing so is not without reason, but too often we overlook opportunities for achieving goals at multiple scales.  The Landscape Conservation and Local Infrastructure Program is an exception; it links urban infrastructure financing with incentives for rural conservation.  The City of Seattle is on the verge of showing the region how it’s done in its South Lake Union rezone.

Advocates for the rezone want a great urban place with compact development, mixed-use buildings, housing that is affordable, transportation options, public spaces, and beautiful design that complements preserved landmarks.  Thanks to its form of tax increment financing, the Landscape Conservation and Local Infrastructure Program supports this vision by financing infrastructure investments.  In South Lake Union it will provide $27.5 million for a community center, green streets, and/or pedestrian, bike, and transit projects.

In exchange, the neighborhood’s growth will generate rural conservation using a real estate tool called transfer of development rights.  Development in South Lake Union is expected to conserve over 25,000 acres of farms and forests over the next 25 years, making a local rezone regionally transformative.