Council Roundup: Actions aim to boost affordable housing


Also, big check from Botanical Garden Society

WASHINGTON, D.C. – June 19, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — The City Council on Monday took two actions intended to increase the stock of affordable housing in Bellevue, a high priority for councilmembers. Both votes were unanimous.

The council adopted a multifamily tax exemption ordinance to encourage developers to include affordable rental units in their projects, and they approved a comprehensive plan amendment to help St. Luke’s Lutheran Church build affordable apartments on its property.

“It’s quite a night for housing,” said Mayor Claudia Balducci.

Multifamily tax exemption: The ordinance adopted by the council allows a 12-year exemption from property taxes on the value of new housing in five designated, mixed-use target areas: Bel-Red, downtown, an Eastgate planning area, Crossroads Village and Wilburton commercial district. The council can add or remove areas at any time.

Authorized by the state Legislature, the exemption is a voluntary, affordable housing incentive. To qualify, developers must agree to make 20 percent of the units in their projects affordable, with 10 percent of them affordable for households making 70 percent or less of the King County median family income, and 10 percent affordable for households at 60 percent or less of the median.

The council spent more than a year studying the exemption proposal before approving it on Monday. Several councilmembers credited Deputy Mayor Kevin Wallace, a real estate developer in his day job, for his work in shaping the ordinance.

St. Luke’s Lutheran Church: St. Luke’s requested that the city change its comprehensive plan designation for the church’s 4.3-acre property from single-family to multifamily, which could allow construction of affordable apartments. The council agreed to direct preparation of an ordinance to adopt the amendment.

The next step in the process requires the church to pursue a rezone of its property through an amendment to Bellevue’s land-use code. Currently, the St. Luke’s property has multifamily housing or office uses on three sides. Located at 3030 Bellevue Way NE, the building features easy access to transit and shopping. The church already hosts a women’s shelter inside its building.

A rezone would allow St. Luke’s to pursue its stated plan to build 58 units of affordable housing, with rents affordable for people earning 30 to 60 percent of the area’s median household income — annual household incomes from $21,000 to $43,000. The church plans to team up with affordable housing developer Imagine Housing on the project.

More information on the multifamily tax exemption is available; information on St. Luke’s comprehensive plan amendment also is available online.

$500,000 for Bellevue Botanical Garden
Members of the Bellevue Botanical Garden Society presented a check for $500,000 to the council. The check is part of the Society’s commitment to fund $5 million of the $11 million total cost for improvements at the Bellevue Botanical Garden.

Projects include The Aaron Education Center, a new visitor center and the Ravine Experience, a nature trail with a 150-foot long suspension bridge that crosses over a pristine wild space. On hand for the presentation were Society co-presidents Gary McGough and Molly van der Burch, along with “Growing a Living Legacy” Capital Campaign chairperson Denise Lane.

Commission appointments
The council made two appointments to the Environmental Services Commission. Diann Strom was appointed to a term than ends May 31, 2019, and Lisa Shin was appointed to a term that ends May 31, 2018.


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