Office of Housing invests in District 3 affordable developments

Africatown Plaza, The Eldridge included in city's largest funding package to date

Office of Housing invests in District 3 affordable developments

Office of Housing invests in District 3 affordable developments

District 3 affordable housing projects in the pipeline are closer to being realized after securing funding through the Seattle Office of Housing’s $110 million investment package this year, which is expected to create 1,944 new rental units in the next few years.

This year’s investment in affordable rental housing is the largest to date, and includes $13 million in sales tax the city was able to retain through new legislation passed by state lawmakers earlier this year.

Capitol Hill Housing and community partners received funding for two projects.

Africatown Plaza

Africatown Plaza is receiving $12 million in Office of Housing funding. The project, which will create 132 affordable housing units on a portion of the former Midtown Center site in the Central District, is slated to begin the Early Design Guidance process in early 2020.

The project is being developed by Capitol Hill Housing and the Africatown Community Land Trust under its Africatown LLLP partnership. The Office of Housing previously provided the entity a $4.5 million loan to acquire 20 percent of the Midtown Center site from Lake Union Partners, which is developing a 432-unit mixed-use apartment project on the rest of the property.

Africatown CEO K. Wyking Garrett tells MPT it’s great to see the City of Seattle prioritizing communities that have been harmed by past policies and practices of redlining, disinvestment and predatory development.

“This is an important step toward making sure, if this is going to be a world-class city, it should have a world-class black/African diaspora community,” Garrett said during an award ceremony earlier this month.

He said community feedback during the early planning process included a high demand for family-sized units.

The seven-story, 132-unit affordable housing development is currently proposed to include three-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments, as well as studios and one-bedroom units.

Africatown Plaza will be bounded by 23rd Avenue, East Spring Street and 24th Avenue, with plans for a community plaza at the southwest corner, where Africatown offices will be situated. Plans also call for an art feature in an adjoining entry courtyard with a stage. A portion of the East Spring Street side of Africatown Plaza will include additional community space.

Retail, flex and commons spaces are being proposed on the ground floor of the north side of Africatown Plaza, and Garrett said work continues with LUP on a design solution for connecting the two developments in the middle.

The Africatown Plaza concept design also includes a roof deck at the corner of 24th and East Spring.

Garrett said plans are to break ground on Africatown Plaza in 2021. Funding for the project will include low-income housing tax credits, and another $2 million will likely need to be raised to keep retail spaces affordable for local small businesses, Garrett said.

“And we’ll be continuing to engage community as we have throughout the process,” he said. “We put a high priority on making sure community stakeholders are present.”

The Eldridge

Capitol Hill Housing received $8.6 million in Office of Housing funding to develop The Eldridge, which will be Seattle’s first LGBTQ-affirming affordable senior housing development. Plans are to provide 125 units where the old Atlas and Eldridge Tire buildings sit on Broadway, between Pike and Pine streets, in Capitol Hill.

The eight-story senior living community is to be managed by Generations Aging with Pride (GenPRIDE), the primary service provider, with ground-floor space for Seattle Counseling Service and Country Doctor clinic. There will be a total of nine LGBTQ nonprofits working with CHH at The Eldridge.

CHH plans to begin the Early Design Guidance process around the same time as Africatown Plaza - late January or early February.

GenPRIDE is planning to host a community celebration and information events in early 2020.

“This is a remarkable time in Seattle’s LGBTQ history, and we are both excited and humbled to be playing a part in building a stronger senior community for those who have been instrumental in achieving the rights many of us enjoy today,” said GenPRIDE executive director Steven Knipp in a news release. “We are looking forward to making this a vibrant center filled with people who want to connect with others and be a part of our incredible community.”