West Seattle Junction apartment building in deal to become ‘affordable housing,’ partly with public funding

(WSB photo)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

On Tuesday, we reported on a microapartment project in The Junction. Across 44th SW from that site is a relatively new all-studio building that is in the process of being sold. That alone is not unusual – a check of commercial real-estate listings will show that apartment buildings are often on the market (and some sell without ever being publicly listed). However, this deal is unique: Post-sale, the Vega Apartments (4528 44th SW) are to be managed as “affordable housing,” according to a letter sent recently to nearby residents. A WSB reader forwarded it to us. The letter reads:

SRM Development is in contract to purchase the Vega Apartments located at 4528 44th Ave SW.

SRM is partnering with the Urban League of Seattle to preserve rents at affordable levels for 99 years and offer resident services. Our goal is to create and maintain safe, quality affordable housing options for individuals and couples in urban Seattle neighborhoods.

The Vega is an existing 5-story apartment building in West Seattle, built in 2017, which includes 58 studio units. It will serve tenants ranging from 50% or below of the Area Median Income (AMI) up to 80% of AMI, which ranges from $45,300 to $66,750 for an individual or $51,800 to $76,250 for a couple living in Seattle.

The acquisition offers a unique opportunity for low to moderate income residents to afford to live where they work and with close access to public transport line, which meets to goals and objectives of the City of Seattle’s Consolidated Plan for Housing and Community Development. We are seeking financing for the acquisition and management of the Vega Apartments in part from the City of Seattle Office of Housing.

SRM and Urban League are grateful for the opportunity to provide and maintain more affordable housing in the West Seattle neighborhood and look forward to being long-term community partners.

The letter also points to a page on SRM’s website which says this is one of six apartment buildings around the city that would be involved in the deal; the others are all outside West Seattle. The information on the page otherwise largely replicates what was in the letter sent to neighbors. It also links to a current page for Vega, showing vacancies for ~240-square-foot studios at rents ranging from $1,325 to $1,425.

So what would change for current and future tenants if this partly publicly funded deal goes through? And will the deal proceed if public funding is not obtained? We have been trying to get answers to those and other questions, but both SRM Development and the Urban League have not responded to our inquiries. The city Office of Housing would only say, through spokesperson Nathan Haugen, “We can confirm that SRM and Urban League have applied for funding … We unfortunately cannot comment any further as we are currently in process of closing out any awards.” According to the Office of Housing’s website, the department was accepting applications through mid-September for shares of $44 million in its Rental Housing Program. The notice says in part:

Seattle OH seeks to fund projects that:

• Combat residential displacement in communities that have experienced and continue to be at greatest risk of displacement.

• Address essential preservation and rehabilitation needs in existing OH-funded properties.

• Deliver new housing in geographic locations that offer access to transit, job centers, and services

According to this industry-publication report, the SRM Development executive who signed the letter about the West Seattle plan was hired by the company last year to head a new “affordable housing” division. One more note: Five of the six buildings involved in the pending deal are owned by West Seattle-headquartered Blueprint. We’ll continue following up.

24 Replies to "West Seattle Junction apartment building in deal to become 'affordable housing,' partly with public funding"

  • John October 19, 2022 (6:24 pm)

    Welcome and wonderful news.  
    Please let’s not be inhospitable.  

  • Tracy October 19, 2022 (6:44 pm)

    Hold on, 240sf for $ 1400.00 is a good thing? Absolutely ridiculous.  Is this what they think a fulltime working low income person deserves? 

    • WSB October 19, 2022 (9:36 pm)

      That again is the CURRENT rent, Don’t know if it will be lower if this deal is completed and the building becomes “affordable housing.” Hoping I can eventually get someone to explain for a followup.

    • April October 20, 2022 (11:04 am)

      Unfortunately, they don’t care if its affordable.  $1400 should be for a 1 bedroom at least if they really cared about affordability! And who would ever want to live in 240 sqft!

  • CarDriver October 19, 2022 (6:50 pm)

    The comment that people can live where they work has me wondering: How many junction workers are looking for a studio apartment at the junction??? Also, how much less would rent be under the “affordable housing” scenario?

  • Michael Waldo October 19, 2022 (7:29 pm)

    “240-square-foot studios at rents ranging from $1,325 to $1,425.”That is what is called affordable now?$1,425 for 240 square feet?Are we becoming New York?

    • WSB October 19, 2022 (7:35 pm)

      That is the current market-rate rent. I don’t know if the rents under terms of this deal will drop, since the program partners have not responded.

      • Pelicans October 19, 2022 (8:03 pm)

        WSB, Wasn’t there an outcry when the older apt. building that was previously on this site was sold, to be demolished?  If so, there was discussion back then about the tenants losing their affordable apartments and being displaced. And I’ll wager the old apts. were much roomier than 200-something square feet. 

      • 1994 October 19, 2022 (8:21 pm)

        The rent may possibly drop using the standard of not spending more then 30% of one’s income towards rent/mortgage, especially as the idea is to provide low income housing.… But how often do we hear about rent going down? 

  • Tina Vlasaty October 19, 2022 (9:41 pm)

    This is exciting news!  Great to see these partnerships and efforts to address displacement. 

  • 44th Ave SW Res October 20, 2022 (9:23 am)

    How does this program compare to the program currently in place at  Cal-Mor Circle?   

    • WSB October 20, 2022 (11:39 am)

      That’s a Seattle Housing Authority public-housing building. That’s not what this is billed as.

  • Chris October 20, 2022 (9:42 am)

    This is good progress. Why don’t we ever build these places in the little town of White Center? I have family in that area and other than business names and a couple of unfortunate fires, it hasn’t changed much in over 30 years. It seems like such a waste when there is high demand for new housing near downtown. I would think they could also get a better deal on cost of property for development. It would revive the area with something new for a change and provide more opportunity for businesses. 

    • WSB October 20, 2022 (11:38 am)

      There is another affordable-housing project in the works for WC as part of the Hub project on the soon-to-be-ex-White Center Food Bank site at 8th/108th.

  • Jay October 20, 2022 (10:29 am)

    For a thousand bucks more that’s the mortgage on the 1,500sf house I bought a mile from there last year. This is exploitation. The city needs to buy out properties and rent them at-cost for people in need instead of siphoning all this money out of our communities to Wall Street and putting our most vulnerable neighbors on the street. Everything about this is unacceptable. We shouldn’t allow them the permits or the right to use land in our city for this kind of exploitation.

    • My two cents October 20, 2022 (12:39 pm)

      LOL, love your vision of property regulations. 

    • John October 20, 2022 (1:33 pm)

      Yeah Jay.  
      I was offered a large Alki  Ave bungalow for $39,000 (in 1979) from family friend! 
      The property you bought a year ago would have half the interest rate and hundreds of dollars less than anything available now. 

  • HS October 20, 2022 (11:26 am)

    Will all 58 units become affordable units? That would be wonderful. I still can’t believe that the ‘average’ salary here has reached $130k.

  • Ahoy October 20, 2022 (12:11 pm)

    SEDU’s were very lucrative at one time but there is nothing like government funding to help turn the ship towards affordable housing. 

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