By Keith Loria, Contributing Writer
Seattle—Mercy Housing Northwest has developed affordable housing in Seattle for the first time with the Columbia City Station Apartments, a 52-unit transit-oriented development.
“About three years ago, in the midst of the worst economic crisis in memory, the state legislature created a one-time stimulus program called Washington Works. The project was funded in part by that program,” Bryan Friend, Union Bank’s Community Development Finance Group’s Seattle-based vice president, tells MHN. “It was also funded by the Seattle Housing Levy. Since 1981 the residents of Seattle have generously voted to tax themselves to provide funding which has made possible over 10,000 units of housing throughout the city.”
Mercy Housing Northwest completed construction in August 2012 and all one- and two-bedroom apartments are expected to be occupied by month’s end. Rents range from $650 to $995 and are eligible to a one-person household earning up to $30,800, or a four-person household earning up to $52,800.
The site is part of the award winning Hope VI redevelopment of the old Rainier Vista Public Housing project by the Seattle Housing Authority. It once consisted of 481 WWII-era bungalows, and has been completely redeveloped in the last eight years.
“Just four miles from downtown, the site is very convenient to jobs, shopping, entertainment and services,” Friend says. “The Columbia City neighborhood is rich with social and recreational amenities. These include green spaces, sports fields, an urban farm, computer centers and a community center.”
A brand-new regional Boys & Girls Club with youth sports, recreation and childcare is located across the street, as is Neighborhood House, which provides career counseling, ESL, computer classes, and Head Start.
“We are pleased to be a key partner of equitable community development in Seattle,” Bill Rumpf, Mercy Housing Northwest’s president, says. “Columbia City Station Apartments will be a thriving, safe and healthy community for limited income workers who will be able to commute to local small and large businesses by rail, bicycle or on foot.”
The project also promotes transit ridership and a walkable community, and it has ideal access to services and amenities.
“CCSA was designed as transit-oriented apartments for working families. It has great transit options, and with the Link Light Rail line it’s about 15 minutes to downtown Seattle,” Friend says. “The Metro Bus line runs along Martin Luther King Way, and can make connections all over the city. Interstate 5 is about one mile to the west.”
Union Bank and Mercy Housing have had a relationship for almost 20 years, including working on many projects in California together, and now their third in the Northwest.
“We share a vision with Mercy Housing in providing affordable, quality apartments in the Pacific Northwest that help build and foster sustainable communities,” Friend says. “First, it’s a terrific location as was demonstrated by its rapid lease-up. Second, it’s of first-rate design and quality which fits into the neighborhood and will hold up beautifully for many years. Third, we have the utmost confidence with Mercy’s management of the property.”