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May 08, 2017

Those big white signs posted on Seattle development projects are getting a makeover


Nat Levy

They're as much of a symbol of the changing face of Seattle as the hoard of six-story apartment buildings going up and the thousands of blue Amazon badges attached to people milling about in South Lake Union every day. I'm talking about those big white "proposed land use action" signs posted at development sites - that people have a propensity to tag with graffiti.

The city of Seattle is redesigning these signs to add more detail and an idea of what future buildings will look like. The Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections issued a proposed rule to change up the signs Monday and is taking public comment until May 23.

It's been approximately 30 years since the signs have been redone, and a lot has changed since then. Technology around building renderings has progressed, and getting that type of imagery onto the new signs makes sense. In addition, there are links to more information online and details like how big the project will be, approvals needed and contact information.

The proposed rules also give insight into how these signs are regulated. For example, they have to be a certain size, placed not too far back from the sidewalk and in the middle of the block. Additionally if the sign is "removed or defaced" it is up to the developer/property owner to replace it, or the city could stop reviewing the project.

A quick look at development activity in the city shows just how many of these signs are out there right now. In Seattle there are 5.7 million square feet of office space under construction, with several other projects planned according to a quarterly report from Colliers International, to go along with approximately 36,600 apartments planned or under construction, according to Kidder Mathews.

An example of the new land use signs proposed by the city of Seattle.
(City of Seattle Image)

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