What’s Happening in Bellwether’s Housing Development
It has been an exciting and productive period for all of us who work in Bellwether’s housing development. With this in mind, we are introducing periodic updates to share news about what we are planning, and what we are doing.
April showers bring May flowers and 50 units of permanently affordable housing in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood! Bellwether acquired The Parker Apartments in 2013 from Seattle Pacific University, which used the building for married student housing. Enterprise Community Partners assisted us with a short-term acquisition loan for the property until we could secure the following permanent financing sources:
Low income housing tax credit equity provided by National Equity Fund
A loan from City of Seattle Housing Levy
A loan from Bellwether Housing Opportunity Funds
A loan from U.S. Bank
The building houses families and individuals earning 30-60% area median income. The strong lease-up of The Parker (the units were fully leased before the rehabilitation work was completed) is evidence of the high demand for affordable housing in Seattle, not to mention the hard work of Bellwether staff. The Parker rehabilitation will create a much “greener” building with energy efficient windows, sliding doors, lighting and appliances. Other work included replacing worn unit interior and common area finishes and upgrading landscaping and outdoor space for tenant enjoyment. The opening of The Parker will be celebrated May 21 from 3:30 - 6:00 p.m. We hear that the Mayor is planning to drop by. Please join us in celebrating our newest 50 units of affordable housing!
With new market-rate 1-bedroom units in South Lake Union renting for well over $1,800/month, how can lower wage working people possibly afford to live in the city? Fortunately, Bellwether is in the process of creating 70 units of affordable housing for lower income individuals and small families just north of the booming neighborhood of South Lake Union at 1511 Dexter Avenue North. The site is located on a key transit route into downtown Seattle and is walkable to job centers in Queen Anne and South Lake Union. The project is in the design development stage with Runberg Architecture Group and we plan to apply for a significant public funding award from the City of Seattle’s Office of Housing this fall. If these funds are awarded, the project can move forward with construction in 2016. These units will be leased to households with incomes ranging from $31,000 - $43,000 and rent for between $800 – 1,000/ month (2015 dollars).
University District Apartments
Several years ago, University Christian Church decided that it wanted to use its parking lot for a higher purpose – affordable housing! Today, Bellwether is partnering with University Christian Church and Compass Housing Alliance to create 133 units of affordable housing on what is now a parking lot at the corner of 15th Avenue NE and NE 50th in the University District.
This project is exciting for Bellwether for many reasons. First, it is an opportunity to provide much needed affordable housing in the transit and amenity-rich neighborhood of the University District. The project will be just a few blocks from the new University District light rail station and is on several major bus lines, it is within walking distance of health care facilities, parks, schools, grocery stores and all that the University of Washington campus has to offer. Second, the project will serve a range of household sizes - from individuals to large families; and it will include approximately 40 units set aside for families transitioning from homelessness. Those households will receive the support they need to be successful in permanent housing from the social service staff of Compass Housing Alliance.
Finally, in addition to being one of the largest projects Bellwether has developed, it will be Bellwether’s “greenest” development ever. In 2014, Bellwether received a grant from Enterprise Community Partners to explore building methods and systems that would lead to long-term cost and energy savings in the University District Project. We engaged 360 Analytics, a building systems engineering firm, and Walsh Construction, our general contractor for the project, to help us identify the up-front costs and long-term utility savings of a number of different options for various building systems. Through this analysis, we are planning to incorporate a number of energy-saving systems that will result in significant operating cost savings and energy use reduction over the life of the project.
Combined these developments will increase the number of affordable apartments in Seattle by more than 250. And we’ll continue to look for opportunities to add even more affordable places to live throughout the city. We’re keeping busy!