City of Seattle’s Office of Housing, Washington State Housing Finance Commission and Microsoft Provide Partial Financing for Acquisition and Development of Future Building, ‘The Empowerment Center’
Property Located Blocks from Judkins Light Rail Station Slated to Become New Family-Focused, Transit-Oriented Affordable Housing Development and New Headquarters
September 14, 2023 – Seattle, Wash. – Seattle non-profit Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle (Urban League) today announced its acquisition of a 1.19-acre site in Seattle’s North Rainier Urban Village for $14.35 million. The Urban League is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization with a mission of empowering African Americans, as well as other diverse underserved communities, to thrive by securing education and economic opportunities.
Located on three parcels near the Judkins Park Light Rail Station at 2001, 2009 and 2021 Rainier Ave South, the property planned for the site is slated to become the future headquarters of Seattle’s Urban League, while also providing approximately 275-300 new affordable apartment homes targeting low- to middle-income earners and working families earning approximately 60 percent of Area Median Income (AMI).
Seattle-based SRM Development has been hired by the Urban League to provide development management services for its new building. Last year, SRM and the Urban League partnered on the $97 million sale of six Blueprint Capital buildings earmarked for affordable housing and have also partnered on a 207-unit new construction building in north Seattle, which will break ground in the next six months.
“We are so excited and thankful for the opportunity to bring more affordable housing and community services to our Rainier Valley neighbors, as well as provide a future home for Urban League, through development of ‘The Empowerment Center’,” said Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle CEO Michelle Merriweather. “We look forward to engaging with the neighborhood and greater community to better understand how ‘The Empowerment Center’ can be a cornerstone for generations to come in the Central District, Rainier Valley and beyond. Our work is just getting started on this project and there will be ample opportunity to connect in the years to come as this project is anticipated to start in summer 2025.”
Once completed, the approximately six- to seven-story project is slated to feature a variety of family-friendly unit sizes—including one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom homes—as well as approximately 150 underground parking spaces for commercial and residential uses. While currently leasing space, the project will also serve as a permanent new ground-floor headquarters for Urban League as the company embarks on becoming a low-income housing provider.
Anticipated to begin construction in summer of 2025, the underutilized commercial property was previously home to retailers including Baskin-Robbins, 7-Eleven and Burger King.
Project Includes Innovative Affordable Housing Financing Sources
The acquisition and development of the project is being financed in part by the City of Seattle Office of Housing and the Washington State Housing Finance Commission (WSHFC).
The City of Seattle’s Office of Housing will provide $2.5 million for units affordable for renters with incomes up to 60 percent of AMI. The Office of Housing’s Acquisition and Preservation program finances strategic site acquisitions that expand affordable housing opportunities throughout the city.
In addition, WSHFC is providing $12 million in funding as part of the organization’s Community Development Land Acquisition Program (CDLAP), which is funded in part by a $50 million commitment from Microsoft.
The CDLAP program supports community-based organizations or developers from historically- underserved or socially disadvantaged communities to access capital to build housing. It also offers more flexible underwriting and builds upon the foundational work of developer accelerator programs that provide intensive technical assistance and support for community-based and other BIPOC-led organizations interested in developing housing. Housing construction on land acquired through the program serves households earning up to 80 percent of AMI.
Project team members on ‘The Empowerment Center’ include Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle (project owner), SRM Development (development services), Washington State Housing Finance Commission (financing), the City of Seattle’s Office of Housing (financing) and Microsoft (financing).
About the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle:
With a vision of equity for all, the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle (ULMS) empowers those we serve by providing programming and services designed to support and encourage self-sufficiency in all aspects of life. Our five areas of focus include advocacy & civic engagement, education, housing, public health and workforce development.