WWII barracks will serve again as low-income housing

SEATTLE — The old World War II Navy barracks at Magnuson park are going to serve once again.

A developer will spend $52 million to transform the historic site, which is located within walking distance of Lake Washington, into affordable housing for nearly 130 families.

The old World War II Navy barracks at Magnuson park are going to serve once again. Photo originally captured by  KomoNews.com

The old World War II Navy barracks at Magnuson park are going to serve once again.
Photo originally captured by KomoNews.com

Some might think it’s a lot of money to spend, but the developer insist it’s a great value for future tenants, neighbors and history preservation.

“We think it’s going to be a fantastic edition to Magnuson Park,” said Bill Rumpf, president of Mercy Housing, the project’s developer.

For 20 years, the old WWII Navy barracks have sat empty. Despite it’s good bones, historic value and prime real estate, the site has become a target for vandals and an eyesore to Magnuson Park users and neighbors.

“The building has just been stripped, really vandalized,” Rumpf said. “A lot of what we’re doing is bringing back a historic building.”

Rumpf said $10 million of the development’s $52 million price tag pays for historical preservation. The remaining $42 million will go toward building the 128 units, which averages out to around $320,000 a unit.

“We think it’s a good value for the park,” Rumpf said.

He said that’s because $320,000 also buys the facility a built-in 18,000-square foot community health center, pays for nearly $2 million in asbestos cleanup, property acquisition and other building remediation and renovation. Rumpf said on average rent will range between $700 and $1,000. Seventy percent of the units will be 2 or 3 bedroom apartments.

One Windermere Real Estate agent specializing in Sandpoint calls the property prime real estate, and said if it was on the private market it could fetch top dollar. That same agent said a two bedroom townhouse across the street from Magnuson Park recently sold for $500,000.

“Downtown it’s like a no go, it’s a no go. It’s very expensive,” said Brandi, a single mom who works part time.

Brandi and her 3-year-old daughter, Sidney, live in low income housing nearby. She said there’s nothing she can afford in downtown Seattle and insisted without low income housing, she and her daughter would be homeless.

“At least there are lots of good social services in this city,” she said.

The Navy barracks will evolve into affordable housing with a catch: Renters will have to have a job with an income between $20,000 and $50,000 annually.

Seattle’s Housing Office said affordable housing is a top priority, and based on Census data, up to 20 of Seattle residents are “severely cost burdened” and that more than half of their income goes towards  housing costs..

Housing Office staff said city leaders, including the Mayor and City Council, are working on a comprehensive plan to tackle affordable housing issues in Seattle. The city’s projected 20-year growth estimates 70,000 new households living in Seattle. The city said 28,000 will need low income housing.

City leaders hope to have recommendations in May for how to address affordable housing needs.

“It’s hard living,” said Brandi.

For the new project, the state kicked in $14 million in state funding. Mercy is in the process of trying to secure other tax credits to help pay for the project.

Rumpf said construction could begin in 2016 or early 2017. Mercy Housing hopes to open its doors to not only low income families, but veterans too.

This article was originally posted by Michelle Esteban|KomoNews.com
Read the original here: http://www.komonews.com/news/local/OLD-WWII-BARRACKS-WILL-SERVE-AGAIN-LOW-INCOMING-HOUSING-291477261.html

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