Keep Yesler Terrace revitalization moving
Yesler Terrace has a chance for modern public housing and a revitalizing makeover. The Seattle City Council is right to keep this plan moving forward.
Seattle Times Editorial
The Seattle Housing Authority's Yesler Terrace project is a bold, ambitious promise to do more than rebuild the complex's World War II-era apartments. It will also revitalize the community.
The 561 low-rise wooden units at Yesler Terrace are worn with failing water and sewer systems. But SHA is right to reject a paternalistically narrow view of public housing that would simply have it replacing the units.
Indeed, the agency will rebuild all of the units, some a couple of blocks away. But a redevelopment plan calling for mixed-income housing, parks and other amenities is a broader, smarter move.
Plans to sell parts of Yesler's 30 acres to private developers for 3,000 condos creates a private-public partnership that leverages taxpayer dollars. Funds from Seattle's housing levy are an appropriate use here. The levy is for building affordable housing.
SHA has had successes revamping public housing into vibrant, mixed-income communities, including at New Holly, High Point and Rainier Vista. It is a welcome shift away from concentrating families in low-income neighborhoods, which often isolate those who need subsidies to keep a roof over their heads.
The Seattle City Council Thursday gave initial approval to the Yesler plan. A final council vote set for Sept. 4 should move the project into action.
All Yesler Terrace residents will be able to return to the community, if not on-site then a few blocks away. Moving expenses will be paid. Every resident will receive relocation counseling, in their own language if they are non-Engish speaking.
Construction will be done in stages so residents who want to stay on-site can by moving to an available unit. The city and housing authority appear to be working with residents in good faith. It is a safe bet that private developers will be interested in the hilltop property, with its view of downtown and Puget Sound.
Other neighborhoods, such as Belltown, have made themselves over. Yesler's proximity to the Chinatown International District and south Capitol Hill gives it a good chance of becoming another community success story.