Seattle’s Newest Residential Developer

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The PD aims to develop, own, and maintain housing in the City of Seattle.

March 13, 2023
Michael J. Yelle - Ahlers Cressman & Sleight

On February 14, 2023, Seattle voters passed Initiative 135, creating the “Seattle Social Housing Developer” (“Public Developer” or “PD”) and the initiative was signed into law by Mayor Bruce Harrel on March 1, 2023.[1] With this initiative, voters created Seattle’s newest housing developer. The PD aims to develop, own, and maintain housing in the City of Seattle.[2] In addition, the PD also intends to retrofit acquired properties to increase energy efficiency and bring them into compliance with accessibility standards.[3] Contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers may see this as an opportunity to compete for and build everything from new multi-unit housing to handrail installation projects. This post will explore some of the basics of contracting with a public corporation like the Public Developer and what contractors may want to consider in their business planning.

What is the PD?
The Public Developer is a political subdivision of the State of Washington, like a port or fire district.[4] The Public Developer is not an agency or department of the City of Seattle. In this way, it is like Seattle Public Schools (SPS) because both SPS and the PD operate within the City of Seattle, but have (or will have) their own staff, procurement rules, and standard contracts distinct from the City’s. Like SPS, the PD can also enter construction and supply contracts, sue, and be sued.


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