King County, Seattle partner on Northgate affordable housing project

Metro property to be developed into 232 units

  • Wednesday, February 26, 2020 12:52pm
  • Northwest

King County and the city of Seattle, along with their partners Bridge Housing Corporation and Capitol Hill Housing (CHH) have come to a pre-development agreement to develop land owned by King County Metro into 232 affordable housing units near the future site of the Northgate Link light rail station.

All units will be affordable to households earning 60 percent or less of the area median income – in 2019, that’s $66,420 for a family of four, according to a King County Executive Office news release Wednesday. The development will provide a mix of unit sizes including at least 52 two- or three-bedroom units, and 24 units will be reserved for system-connected households.

Anticipated development agreement and ground lease are expected to be transmitted to council by this summer, with ground-breaking to follow in 2022.

“Renters shouldn’t have to choose between a home that’s affordable, and one that’s close to work and transit,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine in the news release. “This project adds hundreds of affordable units next to one of the most significant transit hubs in King County, connecting more people to the greenest way to get around. “Reducing time spent commuting is one of the best ways to improve quality of life, and this project will help hundreds more people get to where they want to go and back home again, without getting stuck in traffic.”

The land, valued at approximately $4 million, is currently home to Northgate Park & Ride. King County and Metro will provide the land to affordable housing developers Bridge and CHH for a long-term, zero-dollar lease. In addition, the city of Seattle Office of Housing and King County Department of Community and Human Services are each contributing $10 million (total of $20 million) towards the affordable housing project. Bridge will aggregate financing and manage the construction, while CHH is in charge of future property operations.

“The region needs more affordable homes next to transit stations,” said Capitol Hill Housing CEO Christopher Persons. “Families and individuals living here will have easy, affordable access to jobs, schools and so much more.”

In addition, King County announced a decision to hold off on the sale of an adjacent parcel to Stellar Holdings, Inc. and Lowe Enterprises Real Estate Group, Inc., who were the chosen developers in a request for qualifications and concepts (RFQC) issued by Metro in 2018 for development of a market-rate housing and mixed-use retail project. Following the selection process of the RFQC, Metro and Stellar/Lowe had been in negotiations for the sale of the market-rate land but were not able to reach an agreement and those negotiations will no longer be pursued.

Metro now intends to hold the property until at least 2024, which coincides with the opening of Sound Transit’s Lynnwood Link light rail station. Over the next five years, Metro has the opportunity look at evolving service needs of the area and align it with plans for the equitable transit-oriented development. For now, the parcel will continue to serve as a park-and-ride.

“The city of Seattle Office of Housing is committed to achieving equitable transit-oriented development at the Northgate Light Rail station. We look forward to Capitol Hill Housing and Bridge’s development of 232 affordable homes at this site, and their contribution to a livable neighborhood where people of all incomes have access to transit, jobs and amenities,” said Emily Alvarado, Director of the Office of Housing.

A development agreement between project partners is in the works and will be transmitted to King County Council for approval by summer 2020. Bridge anticipates that they’ll be able to break ground in 2022.

“We’re proud that this partnership is creating new, affordable homes at a transit-rich site,” said Cynthia Parker, President & CEO of Bridge Housing. “The 232 apartments will be affordable to people earning 30 to 60 percent of area median income — below $66,420 for a family of four. And the ground-floor child learning center will bring a much-needed service to residents and families throughout the neighborhood.”

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