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You are here: Home News Daily Journal of Commerce: Local Nonprofit Will Finish and Sell Columbia City Townhouses

Daily Journal of Commerce: Local Nonprofit Will Finish and Sell Columbia City Townhouses

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Daily Journal of Commerce: Local Nonprofit Will Finish and Sell Columbia City Townhouses

Photo courtesy of Homestead Community Land Trust.

July 26, 2013

By LYNN PORTER
Journal Staff Reporter

A local nonprofit recently bought 26 unfinished townhouses in Seattle's Columbia City neighborhood, and plans to complete and sell them at below-market prices to people of modest incomes.

Homestead Community Land Trust paid $3.95 million for the .79-acre site at 5006 Renton Ave. S. and six partially constructed buildings that contain the townhouses.

The affordable housing provider has tentatively named the development Columbia 26.

The original developer stopped work on the project, said Homestead Executive Director Sheldon Cooper.

Homestead purchased the land from Pacifica Red Rock, LLC, which bought it after it went into receivership, Cooper said. Public records show Deepak Israni of San Diego is a member of the LLC.

Homestead plans to spend about $3.75 million to finish the project, which is near the light rail line and the Columbia City business district.

The 2- and 3-bedroom townhouses range from 1,057 to 1,434 square feet.

Homestead expects they will be priced from the high $170,000s to $200,000, Cooper said. The nonprofit will retain ownership of the land.

To be eligible to buy a unit, people must make at or below 80 percent of the area median income. For a two-person household, 80 percent is $51,550. For a three-person household, it is $58,000.

Buyers in turn can only sell their unit to people in that income range, and Homestead caps the prices at which the houses can be sold to keep them affordable long term.

The townhouses are scheduled to go on the market by the fall of 2014; they will be sold to the first 26 people who qualify for the mortgages and are income eligible.

“We're not expecting any problem in terms of marketing them,” Cooper said. “We expect them to be popular.”

Homestead was one of a number of groups that was interested in purchasing the townhouse project, he said.

“I think we got a reasonable deal,” he said. “It wasn't a steal at that price, but it was a price that was going to work for us.”

Erika Malone, Homestead's community engagement director, said in the last year home prices have increased locally.

“(This) makes it harder for all of us to buy homes, but certainly the burden is worse for those with lower incomes,” she said.

Malone said mixed-income communities are stronger. In Columbia City, transit related investment has increased property values and rents, she said, making it too expensive for some longtime residents to stay. Columbia 26 will give those people a chance to own a home in their community, she said.

Homestead is using low-interest loans and subsidies from the city of Seattle, Wells Fargo, Rainier Valley Community Development Fund and other sources to buy and finish the townhouses.

Cooper said that money is critical to its mission of offering affordable home ownership to people otherwise priced out of the market.

Homestead has sold or overseen the purchase of about 160 Seattle-area homes at below-market prices to low- and moderate-income people.

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