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Will South Lake Union rezone actually protect more views?

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City of Seattle Planning and Development

Will allowing tall buildings in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood block views of the Space Needle? One Seattle City Council member says the rezone will actually preserve more views.

The controversy has heated up lately as the private company that runs the Space Needle has begun airing radio ads that claim 400-foot-tall buildings will block public views of the Space Needle, Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. 

Space Needle, LLC has started a web and Facebook campaign called Protect Our Views. The company’s CEO, Ron Sevart, says his company is trying to make the public aware of what the council is considering.

"You know, the more our skyline starts to look like some other city with just tall buildings, I think we lose our character," Sevart said.

Seattle City Council member Richard Conlin says council members are sympathetic to preserving additional views, especially from Lake Union Park. But he says the rezone will actually protect more views than existing zoning as there will be public space between towers instead of just densely packed mid-rise buildings.

"Certainly the way in which it will look will be much better, because instead of a bunch of blocky buildings, you will have really different sets of landscapes," said Conlin, who chairs the committee handling the South Lake Union rezone.

The rezone, which has been in the works for years, is heading to a committee vote on April 22 and a possible full vote by the council in early May.

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.