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Seattle announces $110M for new affordable projects including five in District 3

Bellwether Housing and Plymouth Housing Group’s First Hill development could end up the tallest affordable housing building Seattle has ever seen (Image: Weber Thompson)

Seattle has announced its largest ever annual round of city funding for affordable housing with $110 million going to help start 13 projects across the city including five new buildings across Capitol Hill, First Hill, and the Central District that will create nearly 800 affordable units in the area.

“Seattle is committed to investing in housing and services that help advance our shared priorities of equity and inclusion,” Mayor Jenny Durkan said in her announcement of the annual funding roster powered by the 2016 housing levy. “With investments in both permanent supportive housing for individuals experiencing homelessness, affordable housing for seniors, and housing for working families, we are addressing our affordability crisis.”

The millions in city funding are part of the recipe required for nonprofit developers to piece together the dollars required to create new affordable projects in the city like the Capitol Hill Housing-backed Station House that will begin its leasing process in January for 110 new affordable units above Capitol Hill Station. With units reserved for those meeting affordable housing income thresholds and rents likely some 30% or more below area averages, demand will reach thousands of prospective tenants.

The 2019 roster of investments announced Monday will also include two Capitol Hill Housing-involved projects.

An early project rendering of The Eldridge (Image: Environmental Works)

Its eight-story, preservation incentive-boosted The Eldridge development will create a “LGBTQ-Affirming Affordable Senior Housing” and services development in the heart of Broadway.

Meanwhile, CHH’s teaming with Africatown also made the funding cut with a city boost to the 23rd Ave Africatown Plaza development being planned to create 130 units of affordable housing plus street-level retail and commercial space at 23rd and Spring on the same block as the market-rate Midtown: Public Square currently under construction in this core area of the Central District. Africatown and Capitol Hill Housing also worked together on the Liberty Bank Building which now provides more than 100 affordable homes at 24th and Union.

The largest area project to be included in the 2019 funding roster will rise on First Hill where Bellwether Housing and Plymouth Housing Group are moving forward on an affordable housing project on surplus Sound Transit land at Madison and Boylston. The project will be “the largest building constructed by any affordable housing provider in Seattle, with 12 to 15 floors of housing over a floor of retail, service, and community space.”

The highrise will have two condominium interests. Plymouth Housing will manage one with its own target population and Bellwether will manage another. The Plymouth component will include around 111 furnished studio apartments for seniors who have experienced homelessness with onsite property management and social services. The Bellwether component will include approximately 200 rental apartments affordable to low-income households, with a range of unit sizes accommodating individuals, couples, and families, the organizations say.

Meanwhile, the First Hill Improvement Association says the development team is seeking naming suggestions “for Bellwether’s portion of this innovative, groundbreaking, high-density development in Seattle’s First Hill neighborhood.” “Bellwether’s portion of the project will create 256 apartments for low-income families. Share your idea HERE,” FHIA invites.

The city announcement on the funding did not include individual dollar amounts for reach project. Typically, nonprofit developers will need to mix federal, state, and City of Seattle funding, tax credit equity, loans, and capital campaigns to open their developments.

While its efforts to address homelessness on a regional level seem to be currently mired, Seattle has been active in increasing funding for affordable development including an effort to take advantage of a new state law allowing municipalities to use sales tax revenue to fund affordable housing. The sales tax legislation was made possible by a new state law, co-sponsored by 43rd Legislative District Rep. Nicole Macri, that Seattle officials advocated for that allows individual cities to retain more funds from sales tax revenue to develop affordable housing.

Durkan’s 2020 budget push, meanwhile, included some $78.2 million in new housing and anti-displacement investments, $15 million to create a revolving Equitable Development Initiative acquisition loan fund, $15 million to increase investments in permanently affordable homeownership and $6 million for a new financing tool to create more affordable accessory dwelling units like backyard cottages and in-law apartments for low- and middle-income homeowners.

Officials expect nearly 5,000 new affordable homes to become available in Seattle between now and 2022. With Seattle’s Mandatory Housing Affordability plan focusing increased development mostly in its already densest neighborhoods, expect to see many of that new housing rising around Capitol Hill.


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2 thoughts on “Seattle announces $110M for new affordable projects including five in District 3

  1. I thought we had decided high rise affordable housing complexes were a bad idea? Isn’t that why we tore them all down and moved to mixed income levels over the last 20 years?

    • These ARE mostly mixed-income developments. Sixty percent of AMI is not poor, but the cost of housing in this area has gone so high it’s pricing out the lower middle class. Buildings geared entirely toward the homeless may be suboptimal but Plymouth seems knowledgeable and devoted to making that model work at least for some, so more power to them.

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