Seattle, Wash. – The Woodland Park United Methodist Church (WPUMC) today announced plans to further its social mission and serve the Seattle community by redeveloping its existing church site in Seattle’s Greenwood neighborhood into much-needed new affordable housing.
Located at 302 N 78th St in Seattle, the existing WPUMC site will be redeveloped into approximately 75 new workforce apartments along with several affordably-priced new homes constructed on the site’s existing parking lot, as well as a more efficient and sustainable home for the church congregation.
The new apartment homes will also provide much-needed family-sized housing, including as many three-bedroom units as project funding allows, with all rents capped at affordable rates for residents who earn no more than 60 percent of area median income. Covenants will be included to ensure the apartment homes remain affordable for the long term.
“This project answers a true calling felt by our congregation,” said Rev. Willie Deuel, pastor of Woodland Park UMC. “Our congregation loves the idea that this project will have a positive impact for as many as 150 people seeking safe, affordable housing. We’re pleased that this project will also provide the church with space that is better adapted to our vision for the future, including reducing our environmental impact by building a greener, more efficient facility, and making our space more accessible to the community and our congregants. We believe that addressing the needs of the community is part of what it means to be the church.”
Innovative Partnership to Bring Project to Fruition
The new redevelopment project will be managed and overseen on behalf of WPUMC through a partnership with Conlin Columbia, an entity created between former City of Seattle Councilmember and neighborhood/community development practitioner Richard Conlin, and Ben Rankin, an experienced Seattle-based developer of real estate and industrial projects. The associated nonprofit affordable housing developer will be selected by Conlin Columbia and WPUMC in the coming months.
“We are excited to partner with WPUMC on this important project and we look forward to implementing the church’s mission of creating an equitable, thriving and sustainable community. We are committed to helping owners develop sustainable buildings that are integrated into their surrounding neighborhoods, where diverse populations can create their futures together,” added Conlin Columbia Partner Richard Conlin.
As part of the new project, WPUMC will continue to own the underlying land and the congregational space. The housing developer will own the apartments and have a 99-year lease on the land. Individual homeowners will own the for-sale homes.
Along Greenwood Avenue, additional street-level space in the new building may be also used by the affordable housing developer or sold/leased to neighborhood retail or service tenants in a condominium relationship with the affordable housing developer and the church.
Calling to be Part of Seattle’s Housing Crisis Solution
The innovative new project was created in response to the WPUMC congregation’s belief that it has a calling to be part of the solution to Seattle’s housing crisis. WPUMC has been providing overnight shelter space for some of Seattle’s homeless for more than 30 years. However, as more and more families have been drawn into homelessness because of the high cost of Seattle housing, the need to focus on affordable housing as a more impactful solution became clear. This led the WPUMC congregation to imagine a project where it would replace current buildings with affordable housing and with space set aside for church use.
The affordable housing portion of the project is expected to be financed using a combination of Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC), support from the City of Seattle Office of Housing, and a range of other sources.
The timeline for the project depends on securing needed public funding and completing the permitting process. It is likely that construction will begin in 2024. The construction of the main building is expected to take approximately 21 months, and the for-sale homes about a year after that.
About Woodland Park United Methodist Church
Woodland Park United Methodist Church has maintained a consistent presence in the Greenwood neighborhood for nearly 120 years and in our current location sine the 1930’s. Like several other churches along Greenwood Avenue, providing safe space for people with limited access to stable housing has been and will continue to be a calling. We celebrate these congregations along with the individuals and other organizations in the neighborhood who see the need and respond so generously. We are blessed by being in a neighborhood where people of different faiths as well as those with no particular faith affiliation work to make a more just society, provide affirming relationships for all, and to restore the environmental health and beauty of what we call creation. WPUMC is committed to full inclusion of lay members and clergy for individuals of any gender or sexual orientation.
About Conlin Columbia.
Conlin Columbia (CC) is a civic-minded, values-driven organization focused on partnering with non-profit housing developers to create urgently-needed workforce housing in the Seattle area. The organization is led by Richard Conlin, an expert in community development who served on the Seattle City Council for sixteen years, and Ben Rankin, a development and investment entrepreneur committed to socially-beneficial projects in the Pacific Northwest. Conlin Columbia develops projects that support the creation of thriving communities – places where people live and work in buildings well-integrated into their neighborhoods, providing opportunities for diverse populations to create their futures together.