Next Renton Housing Authority townhomes are in the works
By DEAN RADFORD
Renton Reporter Editor
January 17, 2013 · Updated 12:28 PM
The rolling redevelopment of the 100-unit Sunset Terrace has received a big push forward, recently receiving about $2.1 million that ensures construction of the Renton Housing Authority’s new Kirkland Townhomes.
For about 20 years, the housing authority has been purchasing land so that some day it could tear down the 60-year-old housing project and replace it with affordable housing dispersed through the Highlands for those with low incomes.
And that vision is helping to spur a wider redevelopment of the Highlands centered on Sunset Boulevard Northeast that will include the new King County Library System branch, new market-rate housing and retail shops and a new park.
That entire Sunset redevelopment, both private and public, is expected to total about $110 million and take another five to 10 years to complete.
The key partners in the redevelopment, besides the housing authority, are the City of Renton and Colpitts Development Co., the private developer on the project.
The Kirkland Townhomes are expected to cost about $4 million to develop and build. The housing authority already owns the land on Kirkland Avenue. The $2.1 million includes a $1.2 million from the state Housing Trust Fund and a $950,000 loan through King County, both of which the housing authority eventually will pay back.
Rents, housing authority reserves and additional loans are additional sources of revenue.
The City Council is considering whether to waive $139,000 in development fees that will save the housing authority $7,728 a unit because the project meets the city’s goal of adding affordable housing in the Highlands.
The first visible sign of the housing revolution was the construction of Glennwood Townhomes, which is now home to the 16 largest families living at Sunset Terrace. Those Sunset Terrace units are now empty.
With the Glennwood project now done, the housing authority is turning its attention to the 18-unit Kirkland Townhomes on Kirkland Avenue, next to its Houser Terrace senior housing. It will have 14 two-bedroom units and four three-bedroom units.
But the agency still isn’t done. After Kirkland comes new housing on Edmonds Avenue Northeast to the west of Sunset Terrace and finally new affordable housing on the Sunset Terrace campus. By then, all of the barracks-style housing should be gone.
“We are trying to achieve a sense of social justice and pride of home by having these uniquely characteristic,” said Mark Gropper, the housing authority executive director.
In redeveloping Sunset Terrace, the housing authority has intentionally chosen architectural designs that allow the townhomes to blend in with the surrounding neighborhood.
The Kirkland Townhomes take a further step because of their modular design. They won’t be built on site but shipped in from a factory that specializes in such modular housing. With financing secure, the housing authority next will hire a general contractor who will settle on a vendor to build the new homes.
If all goes as planned now, the units will arrive in August and September. Before then, the general contractor will have completed all the infrastructure work, such as utilities and foundations, according to Gropper.
The units will arrive in 15-foot by 31-foot cubicles and then be placed by a crane.
“They will be connected like giant Legos,” Gropper said.
That work should be done before winter weather sets in, he said.
Each two-story until will have wood siding on the front and horizontal plank siding on the sides. The units will sit set back to each other, meaning they won’t look like “one big rectangular box. It looks like separate townhomes that move,” Gropper said.Contact Renton Reporter Editor Dean Radford at email@example.com or 1-425-255-3484 (ext 5050).