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Mercy Othello Plaza
Courtesy of Mercy Housing Northwest

Five developments fighting for affordability around transit

Both completed and in-progress

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Mercy Othello Plaza
| Courtesy of Mercy Housing Northwest

Access to transit is an important amenity, especially in lower-income communities. But it’s also considered a valuable commodity for people who can afford it: study after study shows that being near transit can drive up property values.

This has been especially true of housing near Link Light Rail, which usually gets from point A to point B faster than a bus would.

Fortunately, when voters approved Sound Transit 3 last year, the package included some funding for affordable transit-oriented development (TOD). Other city and state programs are also working toward putting affordable housing near transit.

Unfortunately, a few projects like this aren’t enough to combat the rising housing cost burden in Seattle. For example, the first round of financing from Sound Transit 3 is expected to build 500 to 700 affordable units—not even half of the 2,100 lottery entries for a spot at Othello Plaza.

But they’re a start. Here are five recently-completed or in-progress developments that help make living near transit more affordable.

It’s Curbed’s first-ever Transportation Week! This week is all about how we get around in our favorite cities. Check out all of Curbed’s Transportation Week coverage here.

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1. Northgate TOD

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300 NE 100th St
Seattle, WA 98125

With the Northgate light rail station slated to open in 2021, King County and the City of Seattle are collaborating on a mixed-income development on the Metro-owned surface lots at the Northgate park-and-ride. Details are still forthcoming on this one; they expect to choose a developer later this year.

The city and county are contributing $20 million toward affordable housing in the project.

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2. El Centro De La Raza

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2524 16th Ave S
Seattle, WA 98144
(206) 329-9442
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El Centro de la Raza was founded 1970s, when “activists connected with Seattle’s Latino community” claimed an old Beacon Hill school for themselves. The city eventually leased the property to them for a dollar a year. They’ve remained a community advocacy organization: “A voice and a hub for the Latino community as we advocate on behalf of our people and work to achieve social justice.”

In 2014, El Centro de la Raza and Beacon Development Group broke ground on a 13,000-square-foot plaza and transit-oriented development named for their co-founder—located directly next to the Beacon Hill Light Rail Station on one side and the school building on the other.

The $45 million project, completed in 2016, has 112 rental units available to those making from 30 to 80 percent of the area median income. Most of those units are two- and three-bedroom apartments.

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3. Mt Baker ROZ

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2864 S McClellan St
Seattle, WA 98144

For years, a five properties right next to the Mt Baker light rail station sat unused thanks to contamination from a gas station and dry cleaner that previously occupied the site.

After the city declared the area a Redevelopment Opportunity Zone (ROZ), it paved the way for a partnership with the city, Mt. Baker Housing, and the state Department of Ecology (DOE) to clean up the site and make way for 150 units of affordable housing. That includes around $1.5 million in state funding—$400,000 from the DOE and $1.1 million in the state budget.

The site is currently in the cleanup process.

Via Department of Ecology

4. Mercy Othello Plaza

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6940 Martin Luther King Jr Way S
Seattle, WA 98118
(206) 508-1637
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Othello Plaza, a collaboration between Sound Transit and Mercy Housing Northwest, is located right across the street from the Othello light rail station. Out of the 108 energy-efficient units for households earning from $18,000 to $55,000 per year, 53 are two-bedroom units and 10 are three-bedroom units.

Still, 108 a small fraction of the 2,100 households that entered a lottery for housing in the project.

The project was completed earlier this year.

Courtesy of Mercy Housing Northwest

5. Capitol Hill Light Rail Station

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923 E John St
Seattle, WA 98102

Right next to the Capitol Hill light rail station, Capitol Hill Housing is developing a 110-unit project affordable to those making between $19,000 and $55,000, depending on family size. Units will include studios to three-bedrooms, and the first floor will include a 1,400-square-foot community space.

318 additional units will be built at other sites around the station—and at least 21 percent of those will be made affordable through the multifamily tax exemption program.

The project is currently tangled up in design review.

Courtesy of Capitol Hill Housing

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1. Northgate TOD

300 NE 100th St, Seattle, WA 98125

With the Northgate light rail station slated to open in 2021, King County and the City of Seattle are collaborating on a mixed-income development on the Metro-owned surface lots at the Northgate park-and-ride. Details are still forthcoming on this one; they expect to choose a developer later this year.

The city and county are contributing $20 million toward affordable housing in the project.

300 NE 100th St
Seattle, WA 98125

2. El Centro De La Raza

2524 16th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98144

El Centro de la Raza was founded 1970s, when “activists connected with Seattle’s Latino community” claimed an old Beacon Hill school for themselves. The city eventually leased the property to them for a dollar a year. They’ve remained a community advocacy organization: “A voice and a hub for the Latino community as we advocate on behalf of our people and work to achieve social justice.”

In 2014, El Centro de la Raza and Beacon Development Group broke ground on a 13,000-square-foot plaza and transit-oriented development named for their co-founder—located directly next to the Beacon Hill Light Rail Station on one side and the school building on the other.

The $45 million project, completed in 2016, has 112 rental units available to those making from 30 to 80 percent of the area median income. Most of those units are two- and three-bedroom apartments.

2524 16th Ave S
Seattle, WA 98144

3. Mt Baker ROZ

2864 S McClellan St, Seattle, WA 98144
Via Department of Ecology

For years, a five properties right next to the Mt Baker light rail station sat unused thanks to contamination from a gas station and dry cleaner that previously occupied the site.

After the city declared the area a Redevelopment Opportunity Zone (ROZ), it paved the way for a partnership with the city, Mt. Baker Housing, and the state Department of Ecology (DOE) to clean up the site and make way for 150 units of affordable housing. That includes around $1.5 million in state funding—$400,000 from the DOE and $1.1 million in the state budget.

The site is currently in the cleanup process.

2864 S McClellan St
Seattle, WA 98144

4. Mercy Othello Plaza

6940 Martin Luther King Jr Way S, Seattle, WA 98118
Courtesy of Mercy Housing Northwest

Othello Plaza, a collaboration between Sound Transit and Mercy Housing Northwest, is located right across the street from the Othello light rail station. Out of the 108 energy-efficient units for households earning from $18,000 to $55,000 per year, 53 are two-bedroom units and 10 are three-bedroom units.

Still, 108 a small fraction of the 2,100 households that entered a lottery for housing in the project.

The project was completed earlier this year.

6940 Martin Luther King Jr Way S
Seattle, WA 98118

5. Capitol Hill Light Rail Station

923 E John St, Seattle, WA 98102
Courtesy of Capitol Hill Housing

Right next to the Capitol Hill light rail station, Capitol Hill Housing is developing a 110-unit project affordable to those making between $19,000 and $55,000, depending on family size. Units will include studios to three-bedrooms, and the first floor will include a 1,400-square-foot community space.

318 additional units will be built at other sites around the station—and at least 21 percent of those will be made affordable through the multifamily tax exemption program.

The project is currently tangled up in design review.

923 E John St
Seattle, WA 98102