TDR Frequently Asked Questions

How does the TDR Program work?

The owners of properties located within environmentally or historically significant areas - known as "sending areas" - may sell the development potential of their properties to owners of property located in areas more suitable for development, known as "receiving areas." The sending area property owner maintains ownership of the underlying land, but must agree to record a Conservation Easement on the property that protects the resource and restricts future development of the property. The owner of the receiving area property may then increase the permitted density on their property according to the number of development rights purchased, thereby transferring the development potential from the sending area property to the receiving area property.

Who benefits from this Program?

Owners of sending area properties achieve some economic return on their property that would otherwise be restricted or prohibited from developing due to sensitive areas or low density zoning requirements.

Owners of receiving area properties can increase the density of their developments thereby accommodating a greater number of uses, tenants, or parking facilities.

The public and citizens of Redmond benefit from the program through the recorded Conservation Easements that preserve and protect open space and sensitive wildlife habitat areas for future enjoyment.

How much do TDRs cost?

The price of a TDR is determined on the private market between the buyer and seller. The price fluctuates as the demand for TDRs changes.

How many TDRs can I send from my property?

The number of TDRs granted per acre of eligible sending area is based on the site's underlying zoning. In general, where the zoning permits more intense development, an acre of eligible sending area is granted more TDRs. For example, properties in the Urban Recreation (UR) zoning district are permitted only very low density development and therefore receive fewer Development Rights per acre than land zoned for higher intensity use, such as land in Redmond's Downtown. See RZC 21.48.010(E) for details.

How do I participate if I own land within a Sending Area?

The following summarizes the necessary steps for selling TDRs if you own property in an eligible sending area.

You may, at any time, submit to the Planning Department an application requesting the issuance of a Certificate of Development Rights. You will need to provide proof of Title to the property, and a general description of the land that you would like to enroll in this program. You may enroll all or a portion of your property.

For properties that meet the requirements of the program, the city will issue a TDR Certificate that can then be retained by you or sold or transferred to any interested buyer. You will need to provide a legal description of the land to be enrolled before the City can issue a TDR Certificate.

Before you sell or transfer the TDR certificate, you must record a conservation easement against that portion of the property that is being enrolled in the program. The conservation easement is granted to the City of Redmond and limits the use of the property for future development.

Once you and a willing buyer agree on terms of a purchase and sale, you must execute and record a deed transferring ownership of the development rights. While you will remain the underlying landowner (unless you sell the underlying land to a third party), the buyer of the TDRs becomes the owner of the development rights, which may be used to increase development density on land located within designated receiving areas.

Surveying the property and recording the conservation easement may take a few weeks.

How do I participate if I own land in a receiving area?

As a property owner in a receiving area, the first step is to acquire transferable development rights. That can occur once you have agreed to the terms of purchase and sale of TDRs with a sending area property owner, and the conservation easement and a deed memorializing that transaction have been recorded. Contact Jason Rogers for a list of potential TDR sellers.

Next, you may submit an application to develop your land together with notation describing the development proposed, the zoning classification of the property, the amount and serial number of the development rights used, how the development rights are proposed to be used, and a notation of the recording number of the conservation easement on file with King County.

Using TDRs on your development should not add to the total project review time. However, the amount of time it takes you to find a willing TDR will vary based on market conditions. It may take only a few days, or it could take months.

Once I acquire the TDRs, how can I use them on receiving area properties?

Each development right is given an equivalent "value" for its use. You may purchase multiple development rights and use them in any combination as described below. Each TDR within the City of Redmond may be used as follows:

  • To increase the amount of building area by 8,712 square feet
  • To substitute a requirement to provide 8,712 square feet of public or private park land as part of development review.
  • To increase the amount of impervious surface on your property by 8,712 square feet (provided the total increase does not exceed 10% of the site.)
  • To increase the height limitation on your project by up to one story over each increment floor area of 8,712 square feet.
  • To add up to 25% (in Downtown and Overlake) or 30% (elsewhere) more parking spaces per 1,000 square feet of gross floor area than would be allowed by the underlying parking requirements provided that the total parking ratio does not exceed five spaces per 1,000 square feet of gross floor area.

Where are the sending areas located?

In general, sending areas are located along streams, wetlands, critical wildlife habitat areas, and steep slopes. Of those, only streams, stream buffers, and steep slopes can be accurately mapped. Other properties are evaluated for sending area potential at the time a property owner requests enrolling land in the TDR program.

Where are the Receiving Areas located?

Receiving areas include properties within Downtown, and properties zoned Overlake Village (OV), Overlake Business and Advanced Technology (OBAT), General Commercial (GC), Gateway Design District (GDD), Business Park (BP), Manufacturing Park (MP) and Industry (I). These areas were selected because they are suitable for urban development, and because they already have adequate or easily obtainable infrastructure necessary to accommodate the additional density.

Who may purchase development rights?

Any person or organization may purchase development rights. Property owners in receiving areas are the most likely buyers since they have a ready use for the TDRs, but ownership of such property is not a requirement.

How do I get additional information regarding the TDR Program?

For complete details regarding this program and requirements, please refer to RZC 21.48. For complete details and assistance in submitting an application to establish TDR's on qualifying sending area properties, contact Janet Lee, who maintains a list of TDR owners who are interested in transferring development rights.

Janet Lee 

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