Mayor Greg Nickels's proposed Broadway upzone, which some neighborhood activists worried would turn Broadway into a "concrete canyon" of expensive condos and eliminate existing affordable housing in the neighborhood, passed a city council committee unanimously Monday, effectively ending months of debate over the once-controversial proposal.

Proponents of the legislation, which will allow new buildings on and around Broadway to be as tall as 65 feet (or six stories), instead of the current 40 feet, argued that allowing taller buildings would give developers an incentive to revitalize the once-thriving street with new mixed-use commercial and residential buildings. Likely targets for re- development include the old QFC and Safeway sites on the north end of Broadway, which have been sitting vacant since late last year.

Meanwhile, Seattle City Council Member Peter Steinbrueck dropped an amendment, opposed by Nickels, that would have required that one of every five housing units be affordable to people making up to 60 percent of the city's median income. (Currently, the average rent on Capitol Hill is in the range considered "affordable" to people making 60 percent of median-which, according to the city's housing office, is $876 for a one-bedroom apartment.)

Opponents of the Steinbrueck amendment argued that requiring affordable housing would eliminate the economic benefit of adding extra stories. Instead, Steinbrueck replaced the amendment with a compromise that will require that all development above 40 feet consist of housing. Increase the supply of housing and, in theory, you reduce its cost, because greater supply reduces prices throughout the neighborhood.

On Friday, Steinbrueck said he was "disappointed" by the lack of support for his affordable housing requirement, but generally satisfied with the compromise. "It's symptomatic of the direction the city is going, which is more and more expensive housing," Steinbrueck said.

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The resolution, which will go before the full council on Monday, June 13, also says the city will adopt policies to ensure that new developments fit in with the character of the neighborhood, improve public safety, enhance the streetscape, and preserve historic properties.

barnett@thestranger.com