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Hundreds of affordable housing units slated for Seattle light rail stations

(Sound Transit)

Three Seattle light rail stations are targeted with affordable housing projects as the region struggles to provide low-income options.

“Now more than ever, Seattle is experiencing a critical lack of housing for our most vulnerable citizens,” said Sound Transit Boardmember and King County Council Chair Joe McDermott. “The ability of Sound Transit to work with developers to use land that is no longer needed for construction for affordable housing presents a tremendous opportunity to combine public and private resources for the greater good.”

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Land slated for development — called transit-oriented development — was previously used as staging areas for light rail construction around First Hill and the Roosevelt neighborhood. In Capitol Hill, Sound Transit is swapping land with Seattle Central College to locate housing close to that neighborhood’s station. The projects come at a time when affordable housing is rare in the city, and housing costs are rising around current and future light rail stations.

First Hill

The First Hill project will be a joint venture with Bellwether Housing and Plymouth Housing Group to develop mixed-use, affordable housing. This will be the first affordable-housing high rise built in the city in 50 years.

  • 21,600 square foot lot at the corner of Boylston Avenue and East Madison Street
  • Proposed 13-story building with two housing projects
  • Plymouth will own the bottom five floors of the building, with 111 affordable housing units (households earning 30 percent of area median income or less)
  • Plymouth’s project will target seniors transitioning out of homelessness
  • Bellwether will own floor 6-13 with 197 units for households earning between 30-60 percent of the area median income
  • 30 of Bellwether’s units will be sized for families
  • The ground floor of the building will host two retail spaces as well as community rooms

Roosevelt

The Roosevelt project will be a joint venture between Bellwether Housing and Mercy Housing Northwest, located at 6600 Roosevelt Way NE. All of the development will be reserved for low-income residents.

  • 54,000-square-foot lot
  • 245 affordable housing units
  • Units will be one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments
  • Construction expected to begin in 2020
  • Expected to open around the same time as the Roosevelt Light Rail Station’s opening in the fall of 2021

Capitol Hill

Capitol Hill’s affordable housing project is the result of a land exchange between Sound Transit and Seattle Central College. It is funded through low-income housing credits, public funding and private debt.

  • Affordable housing project to be located on Broadway between East Pike and East Pine Streets
  • Plan is for a seven-story, mixed-use building with 78 units
  • Units reserved for families making up to 60 percent of the area median income
  • Capitol Hill Housing will develop the project and hopes to complete acquisition of the site by 2019
  • Project includes historic preservation of the Eldridge Tire Company building

“As one of our fastest-growing, most diverse communities in the city, Capitol Hill represents a critical nexus between economic growth and housing affordability,” said Sound Transit Chief Executive Officer Peter Rogoff. “When complete, this development will ensure that people who otherwise could not afford to live in the city will enjoy the benefits of living near a light rail station that connects to region-wide service.”

Additional affordable housing projects

King County wants to establish affordable housing near the Northgate Transit Center, and around the location of the light rail station expected in 2021. The City of Seattle and the county are each putting up $10 million to build 200 units. The governments are currently seeking requests for proposals from developers.

Tacoma is expected to also get new affordable-housing. Enterprise Community Partners created a fund in late 2016 to provide low-interest loans to developers with the goal of creating low-income housing near transit hubs. That fund, called the Regional Equitable Development Initiative Fund, just handed out some of its first loans to the Tacoma area.

The Tacoma Housing Authority received a $4 million loan to place 150 affordable housing units (out of 300-500 planned units) in Tacoma’s west end. Along with a $2 million loan from the state, the housing authority plans to construct James Center North, Curbed reports.

The project is located near Tacoma Community College and a transit center. A future light rail stop is planned for nearby.

The Regional Equitable Development Initiative aims to build up to 700 affordable units in the region.

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