Seattle—A landmark in the Capitol Hill community here has been preserved as the centerpiece of an award-winning affordable housing project.
The Pantages Apartments features 49 units in a historic house and a newly constructed sister building that was designed to meld with the project’s historic character.
Developed by the nonprofit Capitol Hill Housing, the apartments provide affordable and transitional housing in an area where working poor are being priced out of the market. The development serves residents with incomes topping out at between 30 percent and 50 percent of the area median income (AMI). Eleven of the units are for families transitioning out of homelessness, and 10 are for people with AIDS.
The heart of this project is a three-story house that was built by vaudeville impresario Alexander Pantages in 1907. He founded the Pantages Theatre chain in the late 1800s.
While many of the old homes in the neighborhood were being torn down, Capitol Hill Housing leaders decided they wanted to save the Pantages house.
“We had to figure out how to do this development, and that house had to be there at the end of the day,” said Chuck Weinstock, executive director.
The house was rehabilitated and a new five-story building was built behind it. Designed by Stickney Murphy Romine Architects, the new structure sits back from the sidewalk, maintaining the original home’s prominence. As a result, the new building serves as a backdrop and does not overwhelm the old house. Built in accordance with Seattll’s SeaGreen standards for environmentally conscious development, Pantages was recognized with a green design award from the American Institute of Architects.
In addition to using a long list of environmentally friendly products, developers recycled more than 86 percent of the construction waste. The project prohibits smoking anywhere in the buildings, even inside the apartments. And it’s an infill project close to public transportation.
Pantages has jump started new development in the area. There are at least 10 projects in various stages of design and construction in the neighborhood.
Although the construction of the nearly $11 million project is one story, another involves the residents inside.
With a $220,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Sound Families Program, 11 of the units are reserved for families transitioning out of homelessness. Case management is provided through the local YWCA. Units set aside under this program have project-based Sec. 8 vouchers available.
Another 10 units are reserved for people with AIDS, and Capitol Hill Housing is partnering with Seattle’s Lifelong AIDS Alliance to provide services to these residents. Rents range from about $375 to $650.
The Pantages leveraged multiple financing sources to cover the development costs, so the debt on the property is relatively small, according to Weinstock. The project has an $800,000 permanent loan from U.S. Bank. Having a modest amount of debt also helps the project serve tenants at the 30 percent AMI level.
Other financing included more than $5.1 million in equity from low-income housing tax credits allocated by the Washington State Housing Finance Commission and syndicated by the National Equity Fund, Inc. Bank of America was the investor. The project also received a $1.5 million loan from the state housing trust fund and a $2.55 million loan from Seattle housing levy funds. In a show of support for affordable housing, city voters approved a seven-year, $86 million housing levy in 2002. The Seattle Office of Housing and the Seattle Housing Authority also supported the project.