Seattle’s Pioneer Square rooftop limits modified to boost economic activity



(The Center Square) – Seattle City Council has passed a bill that modifies height limits and rooftop use requirements in Pioneer Square with the intention of boosting economic activity in the neighborhood.

Council Bill 120592 allows buildings 15 years or younger in Pioneer Square to feature rooftop bars and restaurants as well as common recreation areas. Pioneer Square buildings’ permissible heights are increasing from 12 feet to 15 feet above rooftops.

Other downtown zones in Seattle were already allowed to have eating and drinking establishments. A 15 feet height limit for rooftop features is also typical in most other downtown zones.

According to the council bill’s fiscal note, easing rooftop restrictions in Pioneer Square could generate additional business activity in 2023. In turn, that would increase tax revenues in the Pioneer Square neighborhood.

Height limits in the Pioneer Square mixed zone range from 85 feet to 150 feet, with the Smith Tower zoned to allow heights up to 245 feet. The city expects that with this change, rooftop features may be a little bit more noticeable from street level.

The city estimates that approximately 11 properties in Pioneer Square will benefit from the inclusion of eating and drinking establishments.

Alliance for Pioneer Square Community Development Director Chris Woodward said the passed ordinance will have a positive impact on Pioneer Square in the future.

“We are excited about the future of those rooftop spaces for food, beverage, and hospitality uses . . . rooftop bars and restaurants are a unique offering,” Woodward said to The Center Square in an email. “That type of offering in our neighborhood, given Pioneer Square’s location along Elliott Bay, will no doubt support interest from visitors.”

The bill was passed unanimously by the Seattle City Council on July 11. It will now go to Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell’s desk for his signature.



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