Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Seattle's Neighborhood Commercial Zones

Seattle's neighborhood commercial zoning defines the types of commercial activity that may happen on a particular parcel of land. It is typically listed as NC1, NC2 or NC3. The two-digit number that follows these designations denotes the maximum height of the development (with a small bonus allowed for 13' commercial ground floors). For example, an NC240 designation means that the development can go up to 40' in height above street level (43' if the first floor has 13'ceilings).

Here is what each of these designations allows:

A small shopping area that provides primarily convenience retail sales and services to the surrounding residential neighborhood

Typical Land Uses
Small grocery store, hair salon, coffee shop, and apartments above.

Building Types
Small commercial structures, multi-story mixed-use and residential structures. Non-residential uses typically occupy the street front.

Street-level Uses
Non-residential uses required at street-level on arterial streets. Residential uses are limited to 20% of the facade on an arterial street, but may occupy 100% of the facade on non-arterial streets.

Street-level Non-residential Design

Transparency required for 60% of a street-facing facade. Nonresidential uses at street level must have an average depth of 30’, and have a minimum height of 13’.

Street-level Residential Design

Must contain at least one visually prominent pedestrian entry for residential uses. Dwelling units must be at least 4’ above, or 10’ back, from a sidewalk, unless conversion of a nonresidential space to a residential use is authorized.

Maximum Size of Commercial Use

10,000 square feet for most uses.

Parking Location
At the rear or side of a building, within a structure, or off-site within 800’. Parking between a building and a street is not allowed. Parking between buildings along the street is limited to 60’. Within a structure, street level parking must be separated from the facade by another permitted use.

Parking Access
Must be from the alley if feasible. Curbcuts are limited.

Parking Quantity
Depends on land use and location. No minimum parking is required

A moderately-sized pedestrian-oriented shopping area that provides a full range of retail sales and services to the surrounding neighborhood

A larger pedestrian-oriented shopping district serving the surrounding neighborhood and a larger community, citywide or regional clientele; allowing comparison shopping among a range of retail businesses

More information on the requirements for each of these commercial zones may be found in the City of Seattle's Department of Planning and Development publication here.

Happy Investing!

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