The University of Washington is no exception to the massive growth Seattle anticipates in the coming years.
The Seattle City Council on Monday approved the university's plan on how it intends to accommodate an influx of students in the next decade. The proposal had been years in the making, but city officials and activists still had some demands for more mitigation—keeping in mind that with more students (and faculty), more need follows.
The final plan included more affordable housing, for one, and longterm goals as they anticipate challenges with keeping that population local. Here are just a few of the ways UW will look a little different.
1. The campus will expand by another 6 million square feet in the next 10 years. Half of that new space will be dedicated to developing a so-called urban "innovation district" in the western part of campus.
2. UW's total population is expected to grow by nearly 8,000 (from 72,523 this year to 80,479 in 2028)—that's around 5,200 new students, and 2,800 new faculty and staff.
While the university originally proposed the goal of just 15 percent of that population to be driving alone by then, city officials pushed the UW to reduce that goal to 12 percent.
3. After pressure from city officials and advocates for the plan to include affordable housing—anticipating that the added workers won't necessarily be able to afford living in the University District—the university promised to build 450 units of affordable housing. That's 150 units affordable to employees making less than 60 percent of the average median income, and another 300 units for those making less than 80 percent.
But the condition is voluntary, not required by the city. When council member Lisa Herbold asked about a situation in which the UW ultimately didn't fulfill that commitment, central staff analyst Lish Whitson said making it a "requirement" would be considered a major change to the plan and have to return to council for approval.
4. In some areas, the UW can now construct buildings at heights of up to 240 feet, including a new university building at the north end of the University Bridge.
5. The U-District already has an overburdened transit system because there's more demand from students than there are buses and light rail options.
What had been a point of contention from the university earlier about fronting the price of improved bus infrastructure had been resolved: Part of the master plan now includes that UW will pay a share of the capital costs for RapidRide expansion in the U-District.