By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Delridge residents concerned about the Downtown Emergency Service Center‘s 75-unit “supportive housing” project have obtained more information about the project via public-records requests, and we have a few new details too.
Four months after news of the proposed apartments in the 5400 block of Delridge first came to light at a North Delridge Neighborhood Council meeting (WSB coverage here; next-day followup here), documents posted by citizen researchers indicate the agency is close to key dates for greenlighting the project, such as a projected December 1st closing of the deal for property on Delridge. Public-funding decisions are being made; as reported here last week, the city Office of Housing says it has approved “up to $4.45 million” for the project, right after the state announced an award of $500,000.
The county is considering a grant as well; the advisory Joint Recommendations Committee was scheduled to make a decision at a meeting last week, but postponed it after hearing from Delridge residents who attended the meeting on Mercer Island to comment on the project. One of them, Karrie Kohlhaas, summarized some of the concerns that were voiced regarding the neighborhood’s characteristics:
*North Delridge is classified as a “food desert” with no walkable access to a major grocery store and no easy or direct bus service to a supermarket;
*N. Delridge lacks basic “day-to-day” amenities normally found in a developed neighborhood;
*The neighborhood is isolated in multiple ways… from topography (steep ridges bordering both sides of the neighborhood), to public transit (single route traveling only N-S).
*There are 3 gas stations/convenience stores within a block (2 of which are directly across the street from the proposed site)—something DESC Executive Director Bill Hobson has stated publicly is a negative influence on his clients.
*A preschool is on the same block as the proposed project and another school is 2 blocks away.
We talked today with county staffer Cheryl Markham, who confirms information originally reported by neighborhood advocates, that another JRC meeting is now set for 9:30 am November 17th to decide the DESC proposal, also on Mercer Island. She says the funding amount under consideration is $538,000. The final say on JRC recommendations rests with County Executive Dow Constantine, she says. She says county staffers plan to visit the Delridge site to investigate some of the concerns that were voiced, and will consult with city staffers, then will report back to the committee members (who are listed at the bottom of this page).
A key document has been made public in recent days on the website for the Delridge Community Forum, a citizens’ group which organized a meeting about the project last month (WSB coverage here). That document is DESC’s state application for funding, which reveals many details about the project – the links are all here. It even includes the purchase/sale agreement for the property on which DESC is seeking to build the project; the agreement is dated March 31st, more than two months before this plan came to light publicly.
Separate from Delridge Community Forum, an anonymous researcher started a website as “A Concerned Delridge Neighbor” (here’s our report from last week) and has just added new information to her/his site as well. The author calls out one specific aspect of the information in the aforementioned state application, regarding a waiver of city rules regarding how much subsidized low-income housing can be built in one area – here’s the new writeup on the “neighbor” site.
Some residents had been making the point that adding 75 more very-low-income residents to the area appeared to be against a rule prohibiting the concentration of extreme poverty in one area. And one document in the state application would seem to acknowledge that – a letter saying the city is waiving that rule, based on a future expectation of “market-rate housing” in High Point reducing the percentage of low-income residents in the general area. Here’s a screengrab of the excerpt:
The entire letter is about halfway through “Part 3” of the state application documents. It is dated July 21st, which was less than a month after DESC held its first and only, to date, community meeting – with a turnaway crowd at the Delridge Library branch – on the project. The application documents also contain a memo explaining why a waiver was being requested. Under the numbers DESC was originally quoted, it says, 76 more low-income units would have been allowed in the area – one above what the DESC project calls for. The revised numbers, say the documents, allow 63 – twelve fewer than DESC wants to build. But if 80 future High Point homes to be built for purchase instead of rent are added in, the number of allowable low-income units goes back up to 79, four more than DESC’s plan.
Other numbers laid out in the application: The land is to be purchased for almost $800,000; the project would cost $8.2 million to build, from a total projected project cost around $14.5 million.
In addition to the county funding that will be considered later this month, tax credits for the project are to be considered next year (a mechanism for raising investment money, as explained here); the building design will have to go through the city Design Review process, projected in the state application documents as happening this month, though no meeting is set yet, and DESC executive director Bill Hobson told WSB all they have so far toward that process is “very preliminary elevation sketches of the building.”
FOOTNOTE: Tonight, the Delridge Community Forum website added another document – DESC’s city application for funding. We will be reading it after publishing this story; you can see it and the other document links here.