Faced with the prospect of digging into rock-hard soil, Sea Ridge public housing development groundbreakers crack jokes about the ineffectiveness of their shovels during a ceremony Tuesday at the Mount Angeles View development in Port Angeles. Wielding shovels are, from left, state Rep. Mike Chapman, Clallam County Commissioner Randy Johnson, Peninsula Housing Authority board member Norma Turner, Port Angeles Mayor Patrick Downie and housing authority Vice Chair Pat Teal. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Ground broken for redevelopment of affordable housing complex in Port Angeles

PORT ANGELES — Local dignitaries armed with golden shovels broke ground Tuesday to dedicate the first phase of the Mount Angeles View redevelopment project, officially known as Sea Ridge.

“Boy, this dirt is hard,” Peninsula Housing Authority Executive Director Kay Kassinger said as she and others struggled to dig in the second of two ceremonial groundbreakings.

The housing authority’s $18.5 million project will replace 33 older homes with 63 new units in the 18-acre family housing complex in south Port Angeles.

“As far as I’m concerned, this is a great day in the history of Port Angeles,” Mayor Patrick Downie said during a half-hour ceremony.

“I think it’s way cool we’re all here together to celebrate a really great thing for this city.”

Downie and other speakers said the project will change lives by providing shelter for families.

“We’re going to develop homes where people can feel safe,” said Norma Turner, longtime Peninsula Housing Authority board member and an early advocate of the redevelopment plan.

“If you give people a home, they can develop and their kids can move forward.”

Sea Ridge will add affordable housing at Mount Angeles View and provide infrastructure for future phases of the redevelopment project as well as for a larger version of the Mount Angeles unit of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula.

Future phases will increase the total number of Peninsula Housing Authority affordable housing units in Port Angeles from 100 to 232. Boys & Girls Clubs officials plan to build a new clubhouse.

Most of the homes that are being demolished in the first phase were built in 1942, Kassinger said.

One of the older homes was salvaged.

“Starting in the summer of 2018, the replacement units will move us into the future with healthier, safer, sustainable and energy-efficient housing for our community,” Kassinger told a crowd of about 70.

After the ceremony, Kassinger said the first units will come online next June and the project will be completed in two years.

The Peninsula Housing Authority changed the name of the Mount Angeles View Phase 1 project to Sea Ridge to avoid confusion with the existing development, Kassinger said.

A name change was suggested by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD.

Other speakers at the ceremony were Clallam County Commissioner Randy Johnson and his District 2 predecessor, state Rep. Mike Chapman, D-Port Angeles, who represents the 24th Legislative District, which covers Clallam and Jefferson counties and part of Grays Harbor County.

“I think this is a proud moment for our community,” Chapman said.

“We are going to help the next generation of families who are going to move into these new facilities, giving them a sense of pride and dignity and honor, and also alleviate some of the [housing] crisis we face in our community.”

Other dignitaries at the ceremony were state Rep. Steve Tharinger, D-Sequim, Clallam County Commissioners Mark Ozias and Bill Peach, and Port Angeles City Council members Sissi Bruch and Dan Gase.

Chapman and others touted the public-private partnerships that made the Sea Ridge project possible.

The Peninsula Housing Authority received support and funding from the city of Port Angeles and Clallam County.

“Without the city and the county, this project would have gone nowhere,” Kassinger said.

The state Department of Commerce Housing Trust Fund provided “substantial” funding for the project, Kassinger said.

Sea Ridge also received federal 9 percent low-income housing tax credits from the state Housing Finance Commission.

The awarded tax credits brought in project investor Morgan Stanley through the National Equity Fund and construction lending from KeyBank, Kassinger added.

The Peninsula Housing Authority manages the Section 8 housing assistance program in Clallam and Jefferson counties and owns or operates 497 housing units in Clallam County, including 384 in Port Angeles, and has an ownership interest in the 40-unit Garden Court apartments in Port Hadlock.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.