U.S. Rep. Adam Smith joined Renton city leaders on Oct. 24 for a tour of the many projects that make up the Sunset Terrace Neighborhood transformation, which aims to add hundreds of units of affordable housing centered around public resources and services within walking distance.
The plan to modernize the neighborhood, which since the middle of the 20th century has been characterized by what Renton Mayor Armondo Pavone described as “dilapidated WWII-era housing,” is one involving multiple agencies including the Renton Housing Authority as well as private investors.
Since 2012, six affordable housing projects and three mixed-income projects have been finished or are under construction in the Sunset Area. According to the city, investments so far total $150 million, with another $230 million projected for current or planned projects. This is reportedly a projected sum for projects to be completed by the city, the Renton Housing Authority and for-profit developers in the next several years.
The Sunset Neighborhood is centered around the Sunset Neighborhood Park which used to be the site of the Sunset Terrace public housing project. The current 3.2-acre park includes large lawns for play and exercise, a splash pad water feature, as well as one of the country’s only 30-foot climbing structures.
Across from the park is the 14,500 square-foot Renton Highlands Library, managed by King County and that replaced the old Highlands Library which was less than half of the size. Just down the block, the site of the old library now serves as the Sunset Neighborhood Center. The facility offers physical and mental healthcare, dental healthcare and educational classes as part of what Renton Housing Authority Executive Director Mark Gropper described as a vision for a “service enriched” neighborhood.
The Sunset Neighborhood Center is a City of Renton and Renton Housing Authority project and on-site service providers include Health Point Clinic, Neighborhood House, Valley Service Behavioral Health Care, and St. Vincent de Paul Centro Rendu.
Completed housing projects in the neighborhood include Sunset Oaks — a 60-unit multi-family affordable housing development with studio, one bedroom and two bedroom apartments. Another finished project is Sunset Court, a Renton Housing Authority project built on the site of the former Sunset Park that includes 50 units of multi-family affordable housing including both town homes and apartments.
Housing projects under construction include the Renton Highlands Library-adjacent Sunset Terrace with 108 multi-family housing units to come and 4,000 square-feet of commercial space sitting directly across from Sunset Neighborhood Park.
On the other side of the park, is the site of what is being called the Solara Master Plan. It is a private redevelopment of the former Hi-Lands Shopping Center which will have 686 mixed-income housing units and 38,000 square-feet of leasable commercial space.
The neighborhood is also adjacent to two grocery stores and local leaders are pushing for increased public transit projects and access to the neighborhood.