For four years, we’ve been reporting on Admiral Church‘s soul-searching over how to best ensure its future viability, while utilizing its half-acre campus for community good, ideally including affordable housing. In April 2022, the church announced it had decided what path it would follow, working with Homestead Community Land Trust “to gift them the total of our real estate for the development of permanently affordable, ownership-focused housing (including) a flexible use space exclusively for Admiral Church’s ministries …” Now, a year and a half later, the church and Homestead have just announced they’ve formalized the plan. First, the announcement:
Homestead Community Land Trust and Admiral United Church of Christ have signed an agreement that will lead to the development of permanently affordable homeownership on church land in the Admiral neighborhood of West Seattle.
Under the terms of the agreement, Admiral Church will convey its land in exchange for the ability to continue its ministries in the Admiral neighborhood in a newly constructed gathering and worship facility in the new development, representing a cost that is significantly below the market value of the property. Admiral Church and Homestead’s agreement makes it possible for most of the homes developed to be made affordable to those who make less than 80% of area median income.
“Admiral Church seeks to open the neighborhood to households that have historically been disadvantaged and excluded from homeownership,” said Reverend Andrew Conley-Holcom, pastor of Admiral Church. “We selected Homestead as a partner because their model creates generational wealth for its owners and Homestead is committed to partnering with us and the surrounding community in imagining and developing the homes.”
Admiral Church has served the North Admiral neighborhood in West Seattle since its founding over a century ago and is partnering with Homestead to continue that service well into its next century. The church conducted significant outreach with the neighborhood to gauge support for the concept of an affordable-housing project, including hosting neighborhood meetings, doing one-on-one meetings with interested individuals, and conducting an online survey through a neighborhood association. Over 80% of the 200+ respondents supported an affordable-housing project on the church’s site.
“By donating a significant amount of their land equity to this project, Admiral Church is going the extra mile to achieve its social and racial justice mission. Thanks to the members’ generosity, people who have been historically excluded from owning a home will have that opportunity in a lovely, walkable neighborhood with great schools and a thriving business district” said Kathleen Hosfeld, Homestead CEO and Executive Director. Hosfeld herself lives in the Admiral district.
Affordability at the site will be achieved through lower-cost land and the investment of public and private subsidy. The church, which will be temporarily relocated within West Seattle during construction, will return to a newly constructed gathering and worship facility co-located at the site.
The partners conducted initial feasibility to substantiate the terms of a purchase and sale agreement for the land. However, the site plan and project pro forma has yet to be finalized. The partners will host a community meeting to discuss their partnership and listen to the community’s vision for homes at the site on October 22, 1:30 pm at the Church, 4320 SW Hill Street.
Affordable housing timelines are subject to change, but the partners hope that construction will begin in 2025 and be completed in 2026.
Homestead is a classic community land trust, following the model created by Civil Rights era leaders in the 1960s and 1970s to prevent displacement and allow people to build wealth through ownership. Homestead builds new homes, fundraises to reduce the price of homes to what is affordable to a lower-income household, and keeps homes affordable permanently through agreements with our homeowners and post-purchase support. Homestead lowers barriers to homeownership for those excluded by discrimination, and has nearly 60% ownership by people of color. Typical home prices through Homestead range from $240,000 to $330,000. Homestead has 245 homes in trust and has created over 300 first-time homebuying opportunities for income-qualified buyers.
Admiral Church has been serving the people of the North Admiral neighborhood in West Seattle since its founding in 1899. The church is welcoming to all, having voted to be explicitly “open and affirming” decades ago. The church is a congregation that is God gifted, love centered, open to the future and extending Christ’s footsteps into the world. The church is committed to reach out to the un-served and the unseen in our community and seek diversity, peace, and justice in our world.
Homestead currently has 70 homes in West Seattle, said Hosfeld in response to one of the followup questions we asked her. Also:
How many homes will be built on the Admiral Church site? No estimate yet. What type? “They will not be single-family detached for sure. We have run studies to make sure the project was feasible but haven’t come up with the final mix. We do want to be sensitive to surrounding structures and homeowners and make sure the project fits in well.”
How affordable? “Affordable to below 80% AMI. The AMI levels for our homes in recent years have been 60% to 72% AMI. We will seek subsidy to get the prices as low as possible. There may be several “market rate” homes in the mix. We include market rate homes in projects to provide an internal form of subsidy so we can lower the prices of the homes for income-qualified buyers. We haven’t determined how many yet. We set the initial price of market rate homes to be at or below local comps at the time of sale.
Finally, we asked about terms of the agreement between Homestead – which is a nonprofit – and the church. “There is a technical purchase and sale agreement, and the payment from Homestead involves a limited amount of cash that serves as a bridge for the church while the project is completed. Payment also includes building and conveying a new church facility. The assessed value of the church property, according to King County Records, is $4 million. What the church might have received by selling it to a for-profit developer would be considerably higher. There isn’t a precise dollar amount value of the church facility at this point.”
P.S. For a bit more on how Homestead’s model works, see our summary in this past WSB story.