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In an Effort to Address Affordable Housing Needs, King County and Seattle Housing Authorities Purchase Five Properties for Combined $66.1MM

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By Meghan Hall and Jack Stubbs

As development in and around the Puget Sound has taken off thanks to the region’s emergence as a major tech hub, many of those who were once able to afford housing in the area have found themselves priced out of the market. As civic dialogue increasingly continues to evolve around housing affordability and homelessness in the region, the King County Housing Authority (KCHA) and Seattle Housing Authority (SHA), are working to expand their offerings to locals in need of assistance. Most recently, those efforts have become apparent in three property acquisitions intended to increase the KCHA and SHA’s portfolios in the region. 

In five transactions that closed July 1st, the KCHA and SHA purchased five properties throughout Seattle and greater King County, with the transactions totaling $66.1 million, King County property records show. 

The first transaction, and the largest, was the sale of the Kirkland Heights Apartment complex located at 13319 NE 133rd St. in Kirkland. The 180-unit property was sold to the KCHA by the zaw , a Washington nonprofit corporation for $22.164 million, or 123,133 per unit. The community features two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments, community room and patios or decks.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Apartments—located within the Rainier Valley neighborhood in South Seattle— was also purchased by the KCHA for $14.8 million, or about $125,423 per unit. The three-story Martin Luther King Jr. Apartments, located at 7923 Martin Luther King Way S., was built in 1968 and contains 118 units, according to the property listing on apartments.com. Units at the property range from 495 to 1,063 square feet. 

The third acquisition by the KCHA, also located in Kirkland, included the Juanita View Apartments,blocks from Juanita Bay and Juanita Beach Park, by the KCHA for $11.6 million. The transaction works out to about $123,400 per unit. Located at 11800 101st Place NE., the Juanita Apartment Complex totals 82,600 square feet and was originally constructed in 1971. The complex is currently used for subsidized apartment housing. Rental search engine apartments.com shows that the units are a mix of studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom units, ranging in size from 563 square feet to 1,544 square feet. Rents also range widely; with units averaging between $1,966 to $2,888 per month.

The SHA also purchased two properties, including the Golden Sunset Apartments in Seattle. SHA purchased the 92-unit property for $11.3 million, or about $123,000 per unit. The Golden Sunset Apartments complex, located at 3256 NW 54th St., is slightly smaller in size, at 60,858 square feet. Also currently used as subsidized housing, the development was built in 1968.

The second purchase by the SHA was the smallest of all five transactions and included the Weller Apartments at 1632 S. Weller St. in Seattle. Property records indicate that the complex is about 34,864 square feet in size and totals 50 units. The property was bought for $6.2 million, or $124,000 per unit.

The sellers of the Martin Luther King Jr. Apartments, the Juanita Apartments and Golden Sunset were the Empire-Kenyon Association, the Juanita View Association and Canal View Association, respectively. All three entities, as is the Aero Kirkland Association that sold the Kirkland Heights complex and the Weller Association that sold the Weller Apartments, are associated with Jonathan Holden and IAM District 751, a Machinists Union based in Seattle.

The mission of SHA is to enhance the Seattle community by creating and sustaining decent, safe and affordable living environments that foster stability and self-sufficiency for people with low incomes, according to the organization’s web site. SHA provides long-term, low income rental housing and rental assistance to approximately 34,000 people—representing more than 17,000 households—in the city of Seattle. SHA also owns and operates more than 8,000 apartments and single-family homes at nearly 400 sites throughout the city.

According to The Registry’s reporting, SHA last made a multifamily purchase in Seattle in November 2018, when the organization spent $15 million, or about $217,391 per unit, to acquire the 69-Unit Spring Lake Apartments in North Seattle from Hemmat Family LLC. 

 The KCHA currently provides rental housing and assistance to more than 55,000 people throughout the county to support health and self-sufficiency. Its programs are funded through a mix of tenant-based vouchers, subsidized housing owned by KCHA—such as the Juanita Apartments acquisition—nonprofit partnership and other rental housing, such as moderate-income units and emergency or transitional housing. According to the KCHA’s website, the authority owns 133 properties throughout King County, and as of May 2018, 10,215 households rented from the county. That number, the KCHA explains on its site, has grown steadily since the Great Recession, from just above 8,000 in 2010 to its current levels.

KCHA works to not just purchase and finance affordable housing, but to develop new properties as well. Currently, the county’s focus is on acquiring and improving privately-owned properties in an effort to preserve units for low- and moderate-income families, as well as senior populations and those with disabilities. 

Prior to its acquisition of the Juanita Apartment complex, KCHA owned 12 other developments in Kirkland, including Casa Juanita, also subsidized housing, Cedarwood, Francis Village, Juanita Court and Kirkland Place.