Preserving One of Seattle’s Largest Affordable Housing Assets
Featuring 156 one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom apartment homes, Mt. Baker Village Apartments located at 2900 McClellan St. in the Mt. Baker neighborhood was built in 1957 as garden-style market-rate apartments.
By Lisa Brown October 10, 2019
Mt. Baker Village Apartments is a transit-oriented development two blocks from the Mt. Baker light rail station.
SEATTLE—The housing affordability crisis is coming to a head, inhibiting employers seeking workforce housing and prompting city officials to change zoning laws, according to Urban Land Institute and PwC’s Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2020. One development in Seattle hopes to ease that crisis ever so slightly with multifamily homes that are affordable at 30 to 60% area median income.
Seattle area nonprofit affordable housing developer Mt. Baker Housing transformed the four-story seven-building Mt. Baker Village Apartments into a transit-oriented development two blocks from the Mt. Baker light rail station. Featuring 156 one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom apartment homes, Mt. Baker Village Apartments located at 2900 McClellan St. in Seattle’s Mt. Baker neighborhood was built in 1957 as garden-style market-rate apartments.
As Mt. Baker Housing’s namesake property, Mt. Baker Housing was formed in the late 1980s to purchase and update the apartments in order to make it a safe community for residents, largely Southeast Asian Cambodian and Vietnamese refugees who relocated to the Seattle area in the 1960s and 1970s. At the time of its purchase, the 1988 renovation of Mt. Baker Village represented an early use of the low-income housing tax credit program in Washington State. The new renovations, designed to ensure the project remains affordable, include fully updating the existing 107 one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom units and upgrading common spaces including the community kitchen/entertainment rooms and gathering lounge.
Additionally, Mt. Baker Housing also acquired a small neighboring property as part of the project– allowing the construction of an additional 49 new units to meet the needs of Seattle’s aging population, including accessible units and a new elevator. Construction is expected to be fully complete this month.
In addition to its large scope of construction and renovations, financing for the Mt. Baker Village project was also unique–with the firm creatively using debt, tax credit equity and seller note funds. Mt. Baker Housing was also one of the first Seattle firms to utilize a new HUD program to leverage more debt.
“A project of this size almost always requires public support, however, we were able to move forward without utilizing anything beyond the public funds committed to the 1988 renovation,” said Conor Hansen, director of real estate at Mt. Baker Housing. “I’m incredibly proud of Mt. Baker Housing for the unique, innovative and successful nature of this financing.”
The Mt. Baker Village preservation project was recently named 2019 Affordable Housing Readers’ Choice Award Winner. The company also received a Development of Distinction Award from the Novogradac Journal of Tax Credits for outstanding achievement in the development of affordable rental housing using the low-income housing tax credit.
“Mt. Baker Housing was founded on the premise that vibrant communities begin at home and that all people, regardless of income, should have a safe and affordable place to live,” Mike Rooney, executive director at Mt. Baker Housing, tells GlobeSt.com. “Being acknowledged on a national scale by several different organizations for our work to improve lives and strengthen communities is not only meaningful and rewarding, but it draws awareness to the continued need for quality affordable housing, and for that reason we’re incredibly grateful for this important recognition.”
The project allows Mt. Baker Housing to keep a very special and important Seattle community intact for decades to come, Rooney says.
Project team members for Mt. Baker Village included Mt. Baker Housing (developer), Rafn Company (general contractor) and ARC Architects (architect, interior designer) and Beacon Development Group (development consultant). Additionally, financing partners included National Equity Fund, Union Bank, Washington State Housing Finance Commission, Seattle Housing Authority, Seattle Office of Housing and Mt. Baker Housing.