Seattle, WA, Nov. 6, 2007 — Lora Lake Apartments in Burien will be preserved for affordable housing in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that was approved by the Burien City Council in a 4 to 2 vote last night.
In the agreement, the King County Housing Authority (KCHA) will purchase the apartment complex from the Port of Seattle, preserving 162 units. King County will purchase the vacant property next to it and Burien will receive $1 million, half from the county and half from KCHA for the city’s Transit Oriented Development project. State legislative leaders will also seek funding for affordable housing in Burien.
Burien is the first jurisdiction to take formal action to approve the MOU. The agreement among five jurisdictions will help advance the city’s downtown Transit Oriented Development project, the North East Redevelopment Area Plan, and redevelopment of underutilized properties south of the Lora Lake apartments.
Major elements of Memorandum of Understanding:
- King County Housing Authority will purchase the Lora Lake Apartments from the Port of Seattle at fair market value, preserving 162 units of workforce housing affordable to a combination of low and moderate income families.
- King County will purchase two separate undeveloped properties south of Lora Lake apartments from the Port of Seattle and Seattle City Light. The two parcels will be developed consistent with Burien
- Comprehensive Plan designation, policies and zoning and will be compatible with the current use of Lora Lake apartments.
- King County and the City of Burien will work cooperatively to advance the Transit Oriented Development project as a high capital priority. King County and the King County Housing Authority will each provide $500,000 to Burien for a total contribution of $1 million towards the Transit Oriented Development project.
- Burien intends for the Transit Oriented Development project to include a mixed-use housing component that includes low-income senior housing and subsidized housing for teachers in the Highline School District.
The elements included in the MOU are all subject to the final approval from the legislative authority of each jurisdiction.
The Port of Seattle, City of Burien, King County, the King County Housing Authority and the City of Seattle have been negotiating for several months to find common ground that would meet the best interest of the public. The collective goal was to achieve the priorities and interests expressed by Burien, while also supporting the region’s effort to end homelessness and preserve affordable housing.
“This is a great outcome that meets important regional goals on housing and transit oriented development,” said King County Executive Ron Sims. “I want to commend all the parties involved for the vision and creative solution that will serve the region well.”
“This is a sound agreement that supports both the City of Burien’s redevelopment plan and access to affordable housing,” said Port of Seattle Commission President John Creighton. “I am pleased we have reached this agreement through hard work and an ongoing commitment to collaborate with the City of Burien and community stakeholders.”
Significant involvement and support from the state Legislature was also a large part in the negotiations. In a separate letter of intent, state Representative Dave Upthegrove and state House Speaker Frank Chopp conveyed their willingness to advocate for several legislative actions during the 2008 Legislative session which include:
- A Pilot Program for Teacher Housing at Burien’s downtown TOD
- $1.5 million in capital relocation costs for West Seattle Mental Health
- $500,000 to aid development planning for Burien’s North East Redevelopment Area
“By working hard to find common ground, we have successfully avoided lengthy and expensive lawsuits,” stated Washington State Representative Dave Upthegrove, from the 33rd Legislative District. “Instead, the parties will be working together to advance both housing and economic development interests in Burien.”
As a result of the MOU, the King County Housing Authority will purchase the Lora Lake Apartments from the Port for fair market value and operate it as affordable workforce housing for low- and moderate-income families.
“There is a growing recognition that housing is a nonrenewable regional resource that needs to be protected and preserved,” said Stephen Norman, executive director of the King County Housing Authority. “I am very appreciative of the efforts of the advocacy community and most particularly of local elected officials, without whose leadership this housing would not have been saved.”
“Through the hard work of Burien city officials, state legislators, the Port of Seattle, the King County Housing Authority, and Executive Sims, a compromise has been created that maintains essential affordable housing while boosting Burien’s economic development,” said County Councilmember Dow Constantine. “I salute everyone involved for staying at the table and producing an outcome that benefits all parties.”
“These new economic development investments in Burien are exciting for the future of South King County,” said King County Councilmember Julia Patterson. “I’ll be scrutinizing this proposal to ensure that it addresses the housing needs of Burien and South King County. I’m also pleased this agreement helps fund a separate development that includes low-income senior housing and subsidized housing for teachers in the Highline School District.”
A key parcel of land located between Lora Lake Apartments and the undeveloped parcel to the south is owned by Seattle City Light. Its strategic location was important to the development of compatible light commercial use adjoining Lora Lake Apartments.
“I’m glad that the City of Seattle could help to preserve these affordable homes,” Mayor Greg Nickels said. “Working families around the region are struggling with the ever-rising cost of housing and this agreement will ensure that these homes remain part of the solution.”
The MOU has been signed by managers representing each jurisdiction. It will be formally signed by elected leaders of each jurisdiction at a future date.
A number of details still need to be ironed out, but the signed agreement paves the way to bring Lora Lake Apartments back into operation. The Housing Authority will have to undertake rehabilitation measures to make the units habitable. It is expected that Lora Lake Apartments will be open for occupancy to low- and moderate-income families by April 2008.