FOLLOWUP: Admiral Church and Homestead Community Land Trust unveil site plan, timeline for ‘affordable homeownership’ project

(Concept for what you’d see turning off California onto Hill)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Calling it a ‘continuation of transparency” about the future redevelopment of its site, Admiral Church brought back its partners to show off the site plan to the community this past Sunday afternoon, after an earlier meeting with its congregation. It’s not a final design but this has the most details yet about how the church and Homestead Community Land Trust envision filling the site with a mix of affordable and market-rate for-sale housing as well as a new mixed-use building for the church and its programs.

They finalized their partnership plans last year; the church had long been seeking a way to ensure a sustainable future despite its deteriorating building, while using its half-acre campus for community good, including affordable housing.

“We’re thrilled with this design – it’s exactly what we were hoping for,” said Admiral Church’s pastor, Rev. Andrew Conley-Holcom. “We’re over the moon impressed with the work that Third Place Design has done.” That’s the project architect. The bulk of the new information was via this site plan:

The project would be broken up into five buildings. Third Place’s Poppi Handy explained that they didn’t want to design it as “one massive building.” From west to east, the site plan shows a building with four 3-story, 3-bedroom townhouses with garages; another with three 3-story, 4-bedroom townhouses; the mixed-use building with room for the church and its programs, plus eight condo “flats” on three stories above it; a building with two 3-story, 3-bedroom townhouses; and a building with four 2-story, 3-bedroom townhouses. The site also would have a shared courtyard, a rooftop deck, and an 18-space parking lot (12 for the church and 6 for residents). In all, that’s 21 for-sale residential units – 13 townhouses and 8 condos. One note: The condo “flats” in the mixed-use building will have access to an elevator, which the project team says helps with the accessibility challenges otherwise raised by three-story townhouses.

The church would have entrances on two sides – one for people coming from the parking lot, the other for people coming from California/Hill. The church’s space will include offices and community rooms (they currently host a variety of community uses, from the Admiral Neighborhood Association to recovery groups). One thing it won’t include: The preschool A Child Becomes will not be part of the new campus (Rev. Conley-Holcom said it has already secured a new home at another church).

(Part of a 3-D “flythrough” shown at meeting)

Questions were fielded by project participants including Handy, Homestead CLT’s Kathleen Hosfeld, and the pastor. What about the site grade? It’ll be leveled, said Handy. The current basement space will be filled. Will the rooftop deck be available to the neighboring community for events? Hosfeld said that possibility can be explored, though it would require a public restroom, among other things. Will there be solar power? Yes, they’re planning on solar for all townhomes, depending on financing, and probably at least the “common area” of the church/condos building.

The parking plans drew some discussion. Yes, there’ll be EV accommodation, with the help of city subsidies. Why 10 spaces for 21 residential units? They expect nearby street parking to handle it.

As has been the case in previous discussions of the project, many questions centered on the “affordable homeownership” aspect of the project. 13 of the units will be “affordable” to households with income no greater than 80 percent of the area median, though Homestead says they aim for more like 65 percent. Right now, that means a little over $300,000 for a three-bedroom townhouse, considered affordable to a 2-person household making $88,000. “That may sound like a good income, but it’s not so affordable for buying homes,” Hosfeld observed. In the agreement with Homestead, buyers agree to limit their equity to help ensure the unit would be affordable in perpetuity, as the land-trust agreement stipulates.

Why only 13 affordable homes? That’s all the available subsidies – city/state grants, for example, totaling about $250,000 per unit – will cover; profits from the eight market-rate units will also help subsidize the affordable units. So far they have about $4.5 million for the project (we reported on one grant earlier this year); making it all affordable units would require another $2.4 million or so. Which of the currently planned units are the affordable ones? That’s not settled yet, except for the four townhouses on the northwest side of the property.

Buyers will come from Homestead’s 2,000-family waitlist, and they said they have up to 40 qualified applicants for every home that’s become available (they use “fair housing tiebreaking criteria,” as explained here).

A lot of how this all works will be stipulated by a homeowners’ association agreement – for example, though they’re not part of the land trust,, “even the market-rate homes will have to stay owner-occupied.” The church will be a condo, technically, and it too will be bound by the HOA.

TIMELINE: Design and planning will continue through the end of 2025; they hope to get permits in March 2026, and from there, construction would last about a year and a half. The permit process will include more opportunities for public comment; at Sunday’s meeting, attendees were invited to evaluate design elements such as roof pitches, exterior materials, and windows (above).

1 Reply to "FOLLOWUP: Admiral Church and Homestead Community Land Trust unveil site plan, timeline for 'affordable homeownership' project"

  • Doug June 7, 2024 (9:14 am)

    This is an appealing solution, but the reporting makes plain how difficult it is to create even somewhat affordable housing in Seattle:  $250,000 grants plus reallocated profits from the market units simply to enable families earning $88.000/yr to qualify for a loan at current rates.  No magic here:  Can there be any misunderstanding about why we have a homelessness crisis in Seattle?

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