Mt. Baker Housing has transformed a 1950s-era garden-style apartment complex into a modern, transit-oriented development, increasing the number of units and ensuring the complex remains affordable for decades to come.
The Mt. Baker Village preservation project is one of the first in Seattle to utilize the Rental Assistance Demonstration second component to convert an annual Sec. 8 Mod Rehab contract to project-based rental vouchers, a move that positioned the seven-building, 156-unit development’s preservation.
The property is home to a large Southeast Asian population, including families that relocated to Seattle in the late 1960s and 1970s from Vietnam and Cambodia. Mt. Baker Village has long been their home.
“It was very important to continue to house that population,” says Mike Rooney, executive director of Mt. Baker Housing, noting that about one-third of the residents are seniors. “Some of the families have lived at the property since we bought it in 1988. This is their community. It was important to keep that community intact.”
The development, an early low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) deal on the West Coast, is also the project that started Mt. Baker Housing in the late 1980s, so it’s special to the nonprofit organization. Mt. Baker Village was rehabbed in 1988, but 30 years later it was in need of a renovation.
In addition to substantially rehabbing the aging apartments, the developers rethought the large site to construct 49 new units. They acquired a small neighboring property to create a new standalone building and also found opportunities to build additions to existing buildings to increase the number of apartments, says Conor Hansen, director of real estate.
The $51 million project was financed with 4% low-income housing tax credits and bonds and did not require new city or county investment. Separately, two buildings were repositioned as workforce housing serving residents up to 80% of the area median income to create a mixed-income community.