A new neighborhood center, place to live for Tukwila | Tukwila Village

This is an artist
This is an artist's rendering of the first phase of Tukwila Village. At right is the new King County Library System library, at center is the plaza and community building and at the back is housing. BELOW: Jay Woolford, executive director, Senior Housing Assistance Group.
— image credit: City of Tukwila

Tukwila Village will break ground on Aug. 1, fulfilling a 20-year-old vision to turn a stretch of Tukwila International Boulevard into a vibrant neighborhood center.

Tukwila Village is a place to read books, get a cup of coffee, gather with neighbors, and, for many, live in affordable senior housing with services and stores nearby.

"This is one of the things that has always intrigued me from the beginning is that sort of nexus of housing and health care and community and bringing it all together in one spot," said Jay Woolford, CEO of the Senior Housing Assistance Group, one of Tukwila Village's development partners.

The cost to develop and build the three phases of Tukwila Village has been placed at more than $60 million.

The King County Library System is building a new Foster Library on the Tukwila Village campus, at a cost of about $6.9 million.

So far, the city has spent about $9.6 million on Tukwila Village, mostly to purchase the project's six acres and any buildings on the land. It expects to get about half of that back when it sells the land to the village's development partners, according to Derek Speck, the city's economic development director.

Vacant land is less costly than land with buildings, which then must be demolished.

KCLS will pay the city about $500,000 for the land under its new library.

The six-acre, mixed-use Tukwila Village is about half the size of the original concept, which included about six acres just north of the current site.

For Tukwila as a whole, Tukwila Village will create a revitalized neighborhood, a gathering place, much-needed senior housing and development that will act as a catalyst for even more on the Boulevard, Speck said.

Speck has been Tukwila's economic development director for nearly 10 years, starting when Tukwila Village was getting back on track.

But the City of Tukwila's vision for Tukwila International Boulevard (when it was known as Pacific Highway South or Pac Highway) goes back to 1998, when the City Council adopted the Pacific Highway Revitalization Plan after years of work.

The plan talked about encouraging investment along the highway by buying properties and "actively brokering development." In 2000 the city started to focus on the neighborhood around South 144th Street and Tukwila International Boulevard.

The first or one of the first references to a Tukwila Village is in an ordinance the City Council adopted in November 2000 in which the city made the case for its right in an Urban Renewal District to condemn land to redevelop a blighted area.

Several companies took a shot at designing a vision for Tukwila Village, starting in the late 1990s when Fred McConkey started buying land near South 144th Street and Pacific Highway, which he later sold to the city.

Sabey Corp. and Tarragon designed concepts for Tukwila Village but never signed a development agreement with the city. Projects wouldn’t pencil out financially and the Great Recession stalled the real-estate market.

After Tarragon withdrew from the project in June 2010, the City Council stepped back to consider the city’s options. In November, the King County Library System hired an architect for its new library. And, in spring 2011, the city went looking for a new developer for Tukwila Village.

The breakthrough came in June 2011 when the city signed a development agreement with Tukwila Village Development Associates, LLC,  whose two players have a long history working together to build mixed-use developments with senior housing as a centerpiece.

City officials were already familiar with the Senior Housing Assistance Group, or SHAG, which has developed low-income, senior housing throughout Western Washington financed with federal tax credits.

“Without those tax credits, this project would not pencil out,” said Speck.

A developer of nonprofit housing told Speck she couldn’t do Tukwila Village but she suggested that the city get ahold of Bryan Park, president of Pacific Northern Construction Co. of Puyallup, which has developed senior housing with SHAG.

SHAG and Park seemed a good fit for Tukwila, with their good track record of building such projects, Speck said. And, Tukwila needed senior housing, Speck said.

While Pacific Northern will oversee construction, SHAG will help “steer the direction that the community is going to take,” said SHAG’s Woolford.

“It’s not restricted to seniors either,” he said. “It’s intended to create an intergenerational blend in the community, which is going to make Tukwila unique in that regard.”

Some of SHAG’s 27 communities have residents as young as 18, but generally its communities are for people 55 and older with disabilities or those 62 and older. Residents must fall below a maximum income in order to live in a SHAG community, typically about 50 or 60 percent of the median income. The rents for the one- and two-bedroom apartments are geared toward that income.

The first housing phase of Tukwila Village will offer income-qualified apartments, market-rate apartments and live-work spaces, Woolford said.

For SHAG, Tukwila Village advances its mission because at its foundation is providing affordable housing to seniors, Woolford said.

SHAG has worked in diverse communities, such as Tukwila, where there is a significant unmet need for senior housing, he said. Tukwila Village “also fits into our focus around multicultural communities as well as intergenerational communities,” he said.

“We saw opportunities in Tukwila,” Woolford said.

Housing communities such as Tukwila Village typically draw heavily from the local community for residents, he said, although SHAG projects also draw regionally because of their reputation.

The development team is also at work talking with potential retailers who will anchor the bottom floors of the buildings, he said. Of interest are such basic services as convenience stores, barbershops and beauty salons.

Renton-based HealthPoint, a network of community-based medical and dental clinics, including in Tukwila, considered leasing 20,000 square feet of space in Tukwila Village’s second phase. However, that’s not enough space to meet its needs.

But, HealthPoint has been talking with the City of Tukwila about developing the land just north of Tukwila Village on the Boulevard where there are now three motels, including two that were seized last August, according to Speck.

The city will choose the developer in a competitive process. The timeline is tight, but Speck hopes to present the developer selection process to the City Council by year’s end.

The first phase of Tukwila Village is housing, the community center, the plaza and the new library, with completion expected in late 2015.

Quickly, work will begin on more housing, commercial space, parking and a police resource center on the south side of South 144th Street. SHAG and Pacific Northern Construction will move their headquarters to Tukwila Village.

The project is expected to finish in 2017.

For 20 years, residents and business owners along the Boulevard pushed city officials to breathe new life into the neighborhood, including a new neighborhood center such as Tukwila Village.

Leading the citizen effort is the Tukwila International Boulevard Action Committee; its past chairman, Mike West, will represent the committee at the groundbreaking ceremony.

Tukwila Village is “going to mean an upgrading of life for citizens along Boulevard. I think citizens will take more pride in the Boulevard,” says West.

The groundbreaking

The groundbreaking for Tukwila Village is 2 p.m. Friday, Aug. 1, at Tukwila International Boulevard and South 144th Street.

Taking part in the public groundbreaking are the City of Tukwila, SHAG, King County Library System, the Tukwila Village Development Associates LLC and members of the community.


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