SEATTLE - It took some 130 meetings with residents of the former public housing development located in the White Center neighborhood to come up with a plan to replace deteriorating housing that was originally built in 1942 to house Boeing workers during World War II.
“We translated the meetings into four other languages: Vietnamese, Cambodian, Somali, and Ukrainian,” said Deborah Gooden, the project’s general manager for the King County Housing Authority (KCHA), the developer of Seola Crossing at Greenbridge. Completed in June 2007, this 187-unit family rental housing development is the first of four rental housing phases. This component’s development cost was $44 million. All but 14 units are low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) units. Seventy-seven are public housing units, and 39 units have occupants receiving project-based Sec. 8 rental subsidy assistance.
Once the $350 million project is completely built-out in 2012, including a homeownership phase, the masterplanned community will offer 927 units—448 rental and 479 homeownership units.
“Our main focus was to decentralize areas where affordable units were located,” said Stephen Norman, KCHA’s executive director.
The redevelopment of the Greenbridge HOPE VI project almost doubles the density of the 97-acre site, from 569 units to 927 units.
KCHA acted as its own developer, unlike many authorities, so it was able to exercise more control over the project. “The genesis of all this really was working with the local school district,” said Norman. “The school that was on the old site actually had to be abandoned because of mold infestation and indoor air quality issues.”
The site will include a branch of the King County Library, a community college classroom, and an early childhood learning center. Just south of Seola Crossing is the White Center Heights Elementary School, built on land owned by KCHA in 2004.
Seola Crossing includes six parks and $400,000 worth of art from five artists. The public art includes wooden totem poles, hopscotch areas done Maori-style, an Aladdin’s lamp sculpture, and more. The colorful development is a far cry from the dull gray institutional buildings. Some 30-plus paint colors were used.
Seola Crossing received $25.8 million in LIHTCs. The syndicator was Bostonbased MMA Financial. Additionally, the project secured a $7.9 million HOPE VI redevelopment grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and $6.7 million in permanent bond issuance. The funding was rounded out by $1 million from the state housing trust fund and a Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle Affordable Housing Program grant for $250,000 through Bank of America.