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SEATTLE-The City Council has passed a resolution supporting the concept of developing a biotechnology hub in the South Lake Union area of the city, where a number of biotechnology firms are already located, and calling for public involvement in the process.

Passed unanimously this time, after a disagreement over an amendment’s wording stifled a vote on the resolution a week earlier, the resolution does not commit any city funding for specific projects at this time, but lays out guidelines for the plan.

Much of the land being considered for the project site is currently owned by billionaire Paul Allen. Residents and existing businesses in the area have been battling the concept, but now, with the support and blessing of the Council and Mayor Greg Nickels, the plan is expected to pick up steam.

“One of the ideas of developing a hub is to create a synergy. But it is hard to call it a project,” said Martin Munguia, a spokesman for the city. “The site is in close proximity to the University of Washington. A number of individual projects are components of this. And the city is considering a new power substation in the area.”

The city’s overall plans for the South Lake Union area include making transportation improvements to reconnect the area street grid and promote connections with downtown and Seattle Center; improve infrastructure to support the anticipated long-term growth and revitalization; creating a business friendly climate and relationship with city agencies, including land use code amendments and an overall streamlining of the city’s permitting process and simplifying the business licensing process; preserving and improving open space and parks; developing and implementing strategies for affordable and low-income housing; and ensuring proper public involvement that includes both business development and community stakeholders.

Now, the hope is that in the next six to eight months, timelines will be set for the Council to approve the types of projects in the final plan. After that, it is expected to take from three to five years to see those plans come to fruition.

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