Members of the Jefferson County GOP have filed a complaint with the city over the lack of progress and current conditions of the Cherry Street apartment complex, which was barged in from Victoria in May. (Cydney McFarland/Peninsula Daily News)

Jefferson County GOP files complaint about Cherry Street apartment building

PORT TOWNSEND — City officials have said they will look into a complaint made by members of the Jefferson County Republican Party over the state of the Cherry Street apartment complex, which was barged in from Victoria nearly five months ago and has yet to be placed on a foundation.

The complaint was filed by Jim Scarantino, who runs communications for the Jefferson County GOP committee against Proposition 1, on Tuesday.

“We received some information from concerned citizens, who are members of the party, that this building has become unstable,” Scarantino said. “No other building would be allowed to stand there like that this long.”

The building, a two-story complex with four two-bedroom units, arrived from Victoria in early May and was placed on a 100-foot-by-600-foot peice of land on the corner of Cherry and Van Ness Streets. The city had designated the land as surplus earlier this year specifically for this project.

The building was brought over by Homeward Bound, formerly known as the Olympic Housing Trust, to provide some affordable housing options. In April the City Council approved a $250,000 loan to Homeward Bound to help cover the purchase of the building which had been scheduled for demolition, and to move it.

Since the move in early May, the complex has been held up by wooden stacks and large metal beams.

In its complaint, the GOP said that the current situation doesn’t look stable.

“It’s as if the city is totally looking the other way,” Scarantino said. “They rushed into this project without thinking it through.”

City Manager David Timmons said to address the complaint he is working with city staff to have the property inspected to ensure that it is safe.

“We’ll address their concerns,” Timmons said. “We’re looking to get a structural engineer out there, rather then just send one of our inspectors.”

Timmons said the project is moving forward but the city is waiting on Homeward Bound to finalize its board. Elections for board members are scheduled to be held Wednesday.

Homeward Bound is scheduled to have the finalized plans for the project ready as early as next week. The plans would provide a timeline for the project’s completion and a final cost estimate.

The complaint from the GOP alleged that the cost of the project has ballooned to $1.6 million. Scarantino said that represents the costs of moving the building, remodeling and land.

Timmons said he wasn’t sure of the origin of that number.

“Homeward Bound estimated the project would cost around $715,000, but if you add the value of the land you could maybe get $1.3 million,” Timmons said.

Timmons said the city has been working with Homeward Bound to create a financing plan for the project and paying back the city’s loan, however that plan, along with the project plans will be finalized after Homeward Bound’s board elections.

In a press release from Scarantino on Tuesday, the Jefferson County GOP tied this project to Proposition 1 and said that the same people behind the Cherry Street project are behind Homes Now, the pro-Prop. 1 campaign.

“With the GOP stamp on it that doesn’t surprise me,” Timmons said.

Homeward Bound is not listed as one of the organizations supporting the ballot measure, but Peter von Christierson, a current Homeward Bound board member was quoted on the Homes Now website speaking in favor of the proposition.

Prop. 1 is a November ballot measure that would create the Jefferson County Home Opportunity Fund, which would help fund projects that would build and/or maintain affordable housing options throughout the county.

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Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at [email protected].

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