Challenging Seattle Site Yields Affordable Condos
Developers in Seattle overcame the challenge of a steep, triangular site to provide housing for working families and individuals that would otherwise have been priced out of the city’s hot housing market.
The Stellina, a 34-unit condominium project, was one of six winners of NAHB’s Innovations in Workforce Housing Awards, announced in January during the International Builders' Show in Orlando. The developer is Seattle-based HomeSight.
The development is located in the city’s Jackson Place Community and is within walking distance of Seattle’s downtown “free ride zone.” The design team was able to make maximum use of the challenging 45,500 square-foot lot.
Stellina is a demonstration project in the Washington State Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development’s “Affordable by Design” housing pilot program, which seeks to encourage affordable and attractive high-density residential projects in high-growth areas. HomeSight also partnered with the City of Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development, Seattle Department of Transportation and Seattle Office of Housing to coordinate key phases of the project.
By partnering with the city, HomeSight was able to secure a 10-year property tax exemption on all improvements to the property and these tax savings were passed on to consumers.
“The team approach provided a venue for agreeing upon task lists, scheduling coordination and job completion, as well as consistency and accountability,” said Uche Okezie of HomeSight. “The common understanding of goals and solutions prior to design and submittal meant both design and review periods were expedited and progressed smoothly,” she said.
In addition to the challenging topography, the developer also had to deal with the five-foot-diameter, 68-year-old Cedar River water main running alongside the property. HomeSight transferred to the City of Seattle a 14-inch-wide strip of land along the water main.
HomeSight worked closely with the Jackson Place Community Council in the planning and design stages.
The 34 condo units are organized into three smaller buildings of eight units each and one larger building of 10 units. The design team made use of the sloping site to put the parking garage under the buildings.
“It took a lot of creativity to make this project a success, and that’s what the Innovation in Workforce Housing Awards are all about,” said Bobby Rayburn, immediate past president of NAHB. “It’s exciting to see builders find innovative ways to address the inadequate supply of housing that is affordable to working families.”
For more information about workforce housing and these awards, including eligibility requirements, click here; e-mail Kym Kilbourne at NAHB or call her at 800-368-5242 x8447.