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Paul Allen Wants Taller Buildings In Seattle

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(Photo by Dan Callister/Newsmakers)

(Photo by Dan Callister/Newsmakers)

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SEATTLE (CBS Seattle) – Vulcan Inc., Paul Allen’s Seattle-based investment company, is the main proponent of a plan to construct taller buildings in the area.

According to Businessweek.com, city planners are preparing a recommendation on raising height limits for new buildings in South Lake Union, where Amazon moved its headquarters.

It would be the third time since 2005 that Seattle has raised the maximum height of buildings in and near downtown.

It is estimated that Seattle will gain as many as 100,000 residents and 84,000 jobs by 2024.

Vulcan’s real estate unit owns about one-sixth of the land in South Lake Union, where it has added or is building 5 million square feet of offices, stores, restaurants, apartments and medical-research labs.

“There are many community benefits to building up,” said Ada M. Healey, vice president of real estate for Vulcan, in an interview. “It’s a more efficient use of limited resources, and better environmentally. The best solution for the city is a smart approach to density that incorporates taller buildings where it makes sense.”

Vulcan wants new apartment towers near the lake shore. More stories will mean more residents, creating a livelier neighborhood, generating tax revenue and allowing people who work downtown to walk to their jobs or use public transportation, which would reduce pollution, Healey said.

A group called the Lake Union Opportunity Alliance advocates a step-down to the waterfront, with the tallest properties farthest from the lake, home to Seattle’s annual Fourth of July fireworks display. The alliance doesn’t oppose taller buildings, as long as they aren’t built adjacent to the water, said Chris Gemmill, a spokesman for the group, made up mainly of residents and small-business owners in the area.

“We don’t want a ‘money block’ of 300-foot towers at the lake, which could cause the rest of the area to stagnate economically,” Gemmill said in an interview. “That kind of development only benefits the people who live in those buildings.”

Allen, Vulcan’s founder, also is the co-founder of Microsoft Corp., the main source of his fortune. The 59-year-old philanthropist and owner of the Seattle Seahawks had a net worth of $13.2 billion in 2011, making him the 23rd- richest American, according to Forbes magazine. He began acquiring land in South Lake Union in 1996.

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