Groundbreaking held Thursday for Yesler Terrace redevelopment

by: Graham Johnson Updated:

Yesler way construction

A groundbreaking was held Thursday that begins the transformation of a Seattle neighborhood.

The redevelopment of Yesler Terrace will take 15 years and cost a billion dollars.

The 70-year-old public housing project will be taken down and replaced with a new high-rise, mixed-income community.

Andrew Lofton, the Seattle Housing Authority's executive director, said "We've got a community we're going to be building."

There are 561 aging units at Yesler Terrace now.

All will be replaced with new low-income housing.

In addition, the mega-project will have about 1,100 more apartments with discounted rent, plus around 3,000 market rate units.

The housing authority says residents of varying incomes will be mixed together throughout the new neighborhood.

Executives are now talking with Paul Allen's development company, Vulcan, about partnering on the next phase of the project.

Yesler Terrace is in a prime location. It's so close to Downtown Seattle and First Hill, a quarter of the city's jobs are within a mile.

Jama, a resident of Yesler Terrace since 1998, said she's excited about the change. "I think what they're doing is wonderful for us," she said. She doesn't mind having to move out of her home for as long as two years while new housing is built.

Some of her neighbors are more concerned about that transition, and about losing their community to gentrification.
André Davis' family lived in Yesler Terrace in the 1950's. "I had a lot of fun as a kid growing up," he said. "I'd like it to stay like it is." 

All current Yesler Terrace residents are guaranteed new homes in the transformed neighborhood.